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A Symposium 

With a Foreword by 
Ralph B. Winn 

New York 

Copyright 1961 by Philosophical Library Inc. 
15 East 40th Street, New York 16, N. Y. 

Library of Congress Catalogue Card No. 61-12625 

Published by arrangement with Volk und Wissen 
Volkseigener Verlag, Berlin, East Germany. 

All rights reserved. 

Printed in the United States of America. 



Ralph B. Winn 1 


Hans Hiebsch 5 

The Development of Soviet Psychology 

A. A. Smirnov 11 

The Present Tasks of Soviet Psychology 

A.N. Leontiev 31 

Heredity and the Materialist Theory 

N. F. Posnanski 49 

The Intellectual Development of the Child 

A.N. Leontiev 55 

A. The Steps of the Child's 
Intellectual Development 

B. The Mental Development of Children 
in the Kindergarten Age 

C. The Early School-Age Child 

Problems of the Child's Personality Formation 

G. S. Kostiuk 79 

Investigation of Pupil Personality 

A. L. Shnirman 103 



Ralph B. Winn 

During the last few years the American educators have 
developed a considerable interest in the Soviet system of 
education. The reason for that is that the Russians are 
fast catching up with us in atomic physics, in the produc- 
tion of missiles, and in many other aspects of technology. 
They are already graduating considerably more engineers 
annually than our universities have ever graduated in 
a single year. We are still ahead, on the whole, but the 
margin of difference is steadily shrinking, and that means 
a threat of bitter competition on the level of equality in 
science, industry, international trade, and world politics. 

For the first time in many years, our responsible scholars 
look critically at our methods, techniques and achieve- 
ments in education. Most of us are worried about our 
shortage of teachers, from kindergarten to the graduate 
school— the shortage which is apparently non-existent be- 
hind the iron curtain. We find that in many high schools 
and colleges the traditional glamor of baseball and foot- 
ball exists at the expense of the regular studies. We ac- 
knowledge here and there that our students' motivation 
for education leaves much to be desired, that it is selfishly 


Some basic changes appear to be unavoidable. Our 
prominent educators already suggest numerous reformis 
in the educational procedures and curriculums. They 
agree on the whole that training in science and mathe- 
matics must be vastly improved. But the majority of the 
people, including our teachers, students and their par- 
ents, do not yet react at all. In their opinion, educational 
reforms, if needed, can wait. They have, indeed, other 
headaches to worry about, such as the current recession, 
segregation and desegregation, the new administration 
in Washington, international tensions and, of course, all 
kinds of personal problems. In a way, this is perfectly 
natural: our nation is prosperous, individualistic and 

But some well-informed persons say: "It may be later 
than you thinkl" The people ought to know that our 
future is no longer as secure as our past since the begin- 
ning of the century. They ought to realize that, for some 
reasons, admiration for the American way of life is being 
seriously questioned abroad. And at the root of all these 
recent developments lies our nineteenth-century school 
organization. Under these conditions, should we not ask 
and answer the simple question: Can we really afiEord to 
close our eyes to certain deficiencies of our educational 
habits, policies and patterns or, for that matter, to the 
shifting balance of power throughout the world? 

If the people of this nation prefer to wait with educa- 
tional reforms, the educated people themselves have a 
certain obligation of leadership. There is, no doubt, time 
enough to get thoroughly acquainted with the situation, 
to examine carefully our educational merits and demerits 
—and also what can be learned from other peoples, in- 
cluding the Russians. There is certainly no crime in 


learning. Indeed, it pays to know the truth wherever it is 
to be found. Even the truth which we happen to dislike 
is, after all, more valuable than the falsity we like. 

Much can be learned— without any obligation to imi- 
tate—from the pages that follow, written (apart from the 
Introduction) by five prominent educators of the Soviet 
Union. The material is, to be sure, confined to one aspect 
only of the problem, namely, to the function of psy- 
chology in the growth and learning of children, par- 
ticularly, while they attend school. 

There are certain basic differences to be noted between 
the ways of American psychology and those of Soviet psy- 
chology, derived, no doubt, from the history of each 
nation and from respective philosophies of life. For in- 
stance, we have been greatly influenced by the behaviorist 
and psychoanalytic schools of thought, whereas the Rus- 
sians will have nothing to do with them. They follow 
the lines of dialectical materialism. It is also somewhat 
surprising to discover that the Russian psychologists are 
completely unable to appreciate the value of our intelli- 
gence, aptitude and achievement tests. But that is their 

If we are willing to disregard some of these differences, 
much in the writing below becomes quite interesting and 
informative. It is instructive to learn, for instance, that 
the recent habit of our professional psychologists to shun 
the use of such familiar words as "consciousness," "mind," 
and even "experience" has not affected the Soviet psy- 
chologists at all. But the average American reader will 
hardly notice this peculiarity because, unlike our learned 
psychologists, he finds the above-mentioned words quite 
indispensable in thought and speech. 

There are many wonderful passages in this book which 

can be read without thinking of their foreign origin, for 
instance, the quite illuminating pages on "The Mental 
Development of Children of the Kindergarten Age" and 
"The Early School- Age Child" (both in A. N. Leontiev's 
Intellectual Development of the Child) . 

But most interesting of all is the idea going through 
the entire series of articles— something to be taken very 
seriously— that one of the principal tasks of the school, 
from its beginning, is to locate and promote among 
children talent of any creative type, for it is never too 
early to encourage future scientists, inventors, artists, 
writers, or plain workers to do their best and to learn 
and think unselfishly. 


Hans Hiebsch 

The history of Soviet psychology has three distinct 
stages. The first begins with the October Revolution and 
ends in 1936. Its main characteristic was the struggle of 
the dictatorship of the proletariat against the tough and 
bitter resistance of the ideological bastions of the bour- 
geoisie. The latter maintained many positions, even after 
the victory of the proletariat was assured. Its main weapon 
in psychology and pedagogy was the so-called "paedology," 
about which something needs to be said. 

It is obvious that a science like psychology, whose sub- 
ject-matter is human consciousness, will influence, above 
all, those human activities which are concerned with the 
formation and creation of that consciousness, i.e., in 
education and its science, called pedagogy. Psychology is 
a science related to pedagogy and deals with a number of 
questions directly and indirectly concerned with educa- 
tion and instruction. Therefore, the psychology of child- 
hood and youth was developed at the end of the 19th 
and the beginning of the 20th century as a separate dis- 
cipline. It was bom in the age of class war and imperi- 
alism, and bore from the very beginning the seed of 
fruitlessness, which must not be overlooked, even if one re- 

spects the rich experiences which it gathered. Its idealistic 
and metaphysical base precluded its development into a 
progressive and transforming science. The child psy- 
chology of the turn of the century and its philosophical 
and methodological base were turned, as early as 1896, 
into a special "science of the child," or paedology, founded 
by Chrisman under sponsorship of Wilhelm Rein. Paedo- 
logy brewed together the facts of psychology, biology, 
physiology, etc. into a "science." 

Paedology has this in common with the many different 
tendencies of bourgeois child psychology, that it views 
consciousness as independent from matter and as some- 
thing primary, which develops, both in its phylogenesis 
and ontogenesis, "according to the law which started it 
on its course." The paedologists hold that the driving 
force of this development is either "heredity" or "environ- 
ment" or a combination of both. But, in any case, these 
driving forces predetermine psychic development unal- 
terably and fatalistically. The most important practical 
method of paedology is the test, which puts down, in each 
case, the stage of development reached and considered 
unalterable and necessary. Just as the child looks in the 
"snapshot" of the test, so it must look through the action 
of its heredity, or of the mechanical effect of its environ- 
ment. It is a "hopeless diagnosis," a fruitless undertaking 
which, under capitalism, must inevitably lead to pessi- 
mism. For all that, paedology placed the child in the 
center of things by a romanticizing and sentimentalizing 
exaggeration of the love of the child, which it inherited 
from the bourgeois pedagogues. "The child" was the sun 
round which everything had to turn; everything had to 
start from "the child." The objective social tendencies of 
this entire conception are not dealt with here in any 


In the twenties, bourgeois paedology with its "peda- 
gogical conclusions" found its way into the Soviet Union, 
and so did its practical consequences. The pupils were 
tested, sorted and differentiated. Special schools of all 
kinds were created for them, and the general standard 
of Soviet schools fell. . . . 

In this first stage, paedology dominated almost com- 
pletely the practice of psychology in the Soviet Union. 
And yet it was then that its defeat was prepared by the 
truly scientific investigations of I. P. Pavlov and the 
practical work of the best Soviet teachers. The hard con- 
ditions of ideological class warfare forged the great in- 
novator of Soviet pedagogy, and therefore also of Soviet 
psychology, Anton Semyonovich Makarenko. His prac- 
tical work, derived from the work of Socialist construc- 
tion and driven by the consciousness of a fighting and 
unbending Communist, overcame in the twenties the 
paedological practices and the "theory" on which they 
were based. However, the theoreticians of the educational 
sciences were not yet able to draw from his victory the 
necessary conclusions. It was the Central Committee 
(C.C.) of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union 
(CPSU) which, after thorough discussions and investiga- 
tions, drew these conclusions in its historical resolution 
of July 4, 1936 "On the paedological distortions in the 
system of the People's Commissariat for Education." This 
resolution marks the end of the first stage of the develop- 
ment of Soviet psychology. 

In this resolution, the C.C. of the CPSU shows the 
practical consequences of the use of paedological work, 
theory and methods in Soviet schools: "An inflation of 
the system of special schools" for all kinds of different 

categories of difficult, retarded and defective children, 
in which "talented and gifted children were educated by 
the side of defective ones," which were selected "by the 
paedologists without any good reason on the basis of 
pseudo-scientific theories." The paedological method of 
differentiating the children "consisted essentially in 
pseudo-scientific experiments and the carrying out of 
innumerable investigations of pupils and parents in the 
form of senseless and harmful tests, i.e. in experiments 
which the party had condemned long ago." 

Therefore, the C.C. of the CPSU condemned the theory 
and practice of the present-day so-called "paedology." It 
"is of the opinion that both theory and practice of so- 
called paedology rest on pseudo-scientific, un-Marxist as- 
sumptions . . . that such a theory could be formed only by 
an uncritical application in Soviet pedagogy of views and 
principles of unscientific bourgeois paedology, which has 
made it its task to prove, on the one hand, the special 
aptitudes and special rights to existence of the exploiting 
classes and of the "higher races" and, on the other hand, 
the physical and intellectual inferiority of the working 
classes and the "lower races," in order to uphold the rule 
of the exploiting class." 

As a result of this resolution, the theory and practice 
of paedology were completely abolished in the Soviet 

The second stage, from 1936 to 1948, is characterized by 
the revi-val and more intensive utilization of the materi- 
alist traditions of the great Russian revolutionary demo- 
crats, philosophers and critics like Herzen, Belinsky, and 
Chernyshevsky. Moreover, it was then that the investiga- 
tions of I. P. Pavlov, whose spiritual father had been the 
great 19th century Russian materialist physiologist Seche- 


nov, became more and more influential. But the most 
important characteristic of this stage was intensive study 
of Marxism-Leninism by the scientists concerned. 

The victory of T. D. Lysenko's biology in August 1948 
marks the end of the second stage and the beginning of the 
third, in which Soviet psychology now finds itself. It 
studies the teachings of Marx and Engels, and Lenin; it 
uses dialectical materialism as its foundation; it practices 
criticism and self-criticism; it fights against bourgeois 
survivals and for the proletariat; it is a true science and 
on its way towards fulfilling Makarenko's motto: "Man 
must be changed " 


A. A. Smirnov 

Psychology enjoys a respected and influential position 
in the Soviet Union. Men are the most valuable of all 
the fruits of this earth. Therefore, Soviet construction 
cares for men and devotes special attention to human 
personality. The relations between Soviet people are 
governed by socialist humanism. The psychic life and 
the psychic properties of human personality are the spe- 
cial concern of every Soviet citizen and one of the most 
important subjects of scientific study. 

Soviet psychology is of decisive importance in solving 
problems of the education and instruction of the rising 
generation. Ushinsky, an outstanding Russian educationist 
and psychologist of the mid-1 9th century, said that "to 
be able to educate man in every way one must sufficiently 
know him in every way." The knowledge of the laws of 
the child's mental life and of its development is an indis- 
pensable condition for the solution of all pedagogical 
and didactical problems that are apt to arise. In this 
respect, Soviet psychology is a necessary constituent of 
the pedagogical sciences and has an important place in 


their system. 

The scientific theses worked out by Soviet psychology 
play an important part in developing the theory of So- 
viet pedagogy and the daily practice of Soviet educa- 
tion. They are widely taken into account in working 
out teaching plans and school programs, preparing text- 
books, perfecting teaching methods, and carrying out the 
educational work of schools. Among the proofs of the 
Avide recognition which the science of psychology enjoys 
in the Soviet Union are the following: the scientific work 
carried on with ojeat visror; the existence of a number 
of important institutions for psychological investigation, 
and the scientific work of the numerous chairs of psy- 
chology in Soviet universities. Particularly broad and 
many-sided is the work of the Moscow Psychological In- 
stitute of the Academy of Pedagogical Sciences; of the 
team led in Leningrad by Professor Ananiev; of the 
Ukrainian Psychological Institute under Professor Kos- 
tiuk; of the Georgian Psychological Institute under Us- 
nadze; and of the Philosophical Institute of the Acade- 
my of Sciences of the USSR under Professor Rubin- 

Psychology plays a very important part in the Soviet 
system of training the teachers. There are psychology 
courses in the curricula of all the Pedagogical Institutes 
and the Faculties of Humanities of all the universities. 
Special attention is paid to the practical psychological 
training of student-teachers. All these students take part 
in the practical psychological work of the school to which 
they are attached, during which they study individual 
pupils and their independent work, or the class collec- 
tive as a whole, and analyze the content, methods and 
organization of the instruction hours from psychological 


points of view. These practical exercises are connected 
with the entire pedagogical work of the school, namely 
with the elaboration and execution of concrete peda- 
gogical measures applied to pupils who are the subjects 
of the special study. 

The training of psychologists is entrusted to special 
psychology departments which are part of several univer- 
sities. Particular attention is devoted to the training of 
young scientists in the field of psychology, the so-called 
"aspirants." These are young people who received their 
higher education and proved their interest and aptitude 
for independent scientific work. They now receive an 
additional three years' training in psychology, including 
an acquaintance with the nature of scientific investiga- 

Another proof of the importance of psychology in the 
Soviet Union is its teaching in secondary schools. It is 
here a subject which plays a specially important part 
in the educational work of the school. It acquaints the 
pupils of the upper classes of the school with the laws 
of psychology, and thus fosters in them the development 
of the materialist world view, an understanding of the 
mental life of others, the formation of valuable person- 
ality traits and the organization of their own independent 
schoolwork. The pupils show, in turn, great interest in 
the psychology classes; their practical value is obvious to 

What are the theoretical bases of Soviet psychology? 
It is founded, first of all, on . . . the teaching of dialec- 
tical materialism. Its most important task is to develop 
the fundamental theses of that teaching in the sphere 
of man's experience. The history of psychology, like that, 
of other sciences, is the history of the conflict between 


materialism and idealism. All progressive thinkers were 
adherents of the materialist theory, while idealism al- 
ways provided a foundation of reactionary views. It not 
only hampered the progress of sciences, but was an 
obstacle to their very formation. We define idealism as 
all philosophical theories according to which the psychic 
factor is something autonomous and independent of mat- 
ter; i.e., it is not a special property of matter, nor is it 
a product of the brain. We define materialism, on the 
contrary, as all the theories which start from the assump- 
tion that the psychic factor has no independent existence, 
but is only a property of matter and is formed in the 
long process of its development. Since idealism accepted 
the psychic factor as independent, it attempted to explain 
the entire mental life from out of itself, from the laws 
of the psyche. In doing this, it ignored the most impor- 
tant fact which is offered by our knowledge of the de- 
pendence of experience on the nervous system and the 
outside world: namely, that consciousness is itself only 
a property of matter, a product of the brain, and that 
it develops as a result of the action of an objective 
reality which is outside us and independent of us. 

Idealism could not and would not understand that 
consciousness is merely a reflection, an image in us of 
the real world. It could or would not understand that 
the social relations between men are the most important 
among the factors of objective reality that influence us, 
and that these relations are determined by the material 
living conditions of the society. It also ignored the fact 
that these relations are shaped quite differently in dif- 
ferent historical eras, depending in each case on the 
material living conditions of the society in question. 
Idealism could or would not see the class character of 


consciousness in a class society, the dependence of the 
mental life of men on the class of each individual and 
on whether he belongs to the ruling or the exploited 

Nor could the pre-Marxist, mechanistic materialism 
offer an adequate explanation of man's experience. This 
materialism has the characteristic trait of trying to ex- 
plain the psychic processes and consciousness by purely 
physiological or even physical and chemical processes. It 
saw the qualitative peculiarity of the psychic processes 
not as a special property of highly developed matter, 
created during its development. Neither mechanistic ma- 
terialism nor idealism managed to understand the de- 
pendence of consciousness on the growth of man's social 
life, on his way of living and on his class affiliation. 
Mechanistic materialism had no understanding of the 
active role of consciousness of progressive ideas in chang- 
ing reality. This materialism finally mechanized man's 
entire life and turned him into an automaton. 

The so-called vulgar materialism of Biichner, Vogt 
and Moleschott was particularly far removed from a po- 
sitive and scientific understanding of psychic life. Con- 
temporary mechanistic theories are also quite incapable 
of a correct understanding of man's mental life. This is 
especially true of American behaviorism, which tries to 
replace psychology, the science of consciousness, by a 
psychology conceived as a science of behavior; the latter 
being understood as the sum of mechanically produced 
reactions. Applied to instruction and education, these 
theories lead to a denial of the need of a conscious ac- 
quisition of knowledge and skills and also of a con- 
scious discipline and activity for the child. Instruction 
and education thus become mere drill or mechanical 


training— which is the position of Thorndike and some 
other behaviorists. The mechanists deny with particular 
obstinacy the need of consciousness in the instruction 
and education of the youngest children and of pupils of 
elementary schools. They thus become the champions of 
reactionary class interests, for the elementary school is 
a mass school, accessible to all the strata of the popu- 
lation, while the higher levels of education are accessible 
only to the children of the rich. The behaviorists thus 
rob the children of the poor of the possibility to learn 
consciously, and expose them only to an education that 
is more or less mechanistic. . . . This reduces the future 
workers to mere robots. 

Only dialectical materialism has a correct conception 
of the nature of experience. It proved that mental life 
is a special property of highly organized matter, which 
consists in representing the material world. It alone 
offered the proof of the social conditioning of human 
consciousness and of its dependence on social relations 
which are, in their turn, determined by the material 
living conditions of each society. It alone emphasized 
the historical nature of consciousness and revealed the 
class character of consciousness in a class society. It alone 
has the correct idea of the effective role of conscious- 
ness and of the importance of progressive ideas in the 
life of society. 

What are the chief problems that occupy Soviet psy- 
chology? The problem of personality has a very impor- 
tant position in its system. The aim of the investigations 
of Soviet psychologists is, after all, man in concrete, the 
living human personality. The chief task of Soviet psy- 
chology is to uncover the mental properties of man and 
the laws of his mental development. How does Soviet 


psychology solve this problem? It decisively rejects all 
theories which argue that man's personality and ex- 
perience are determined by biological, natural drives. 
Such a conception assumes the immutability, i.e., "eter- 
nity" of the basic psychic qualities of a person. How- 
ever, history, and especially the practice of socialist con- 
struction, have taught us that the mental qualities of 
men are very changeable. The years since the Revolu- 
tion have wrought radical changes in the personality 
qualities of Soviet people. Individualism has yielded to 
collectivism and new capacities for patriotism and or- 
ganization have been revealed. It is absolutely false to 
claim, as the personality theory of depth psychology 
does, that the influence of social and historical condi- 
tions operates through an upper part of human per- 
sonality, which is opposed by a lower part, consisting 
of natural drives. Actually, the social influences embrace 
the entire personality of man and determine from the 
beginning his whole mental life. Man even satisfies his 
organic needs depending on the social influence to which 
he is subjected. This is the essential difference between 
man and animal: the experience of animals is deter- 
mined by biological factors; that of man by social and 
historical conditions of life. The individualistic strivings, 
which depth psychology assumes to be natural and in- 
born drives, are viewed by Soviet psychology as in no 
way inborn but formed under the influence of certain 
definite social conditions. 

But what are these conditions? The answer to these 
questions must start from the following thesis: Human 
society is, at any stage of its development, a class so- 
ciety. In such a society, man always belongs to a certain 
class and lives under conditions that are characteristic 


of his class. The influences to which he is subjected, 
always emanate from a certain class; man's mental life 
in a class society therefore has a class character. 

In a capitalist society, the ruling class has pronounced 
individualistic strivings and interests. And so a decidedly 
individualistic psychology is typical of it. This psycho- 
logy arises from economic conditions characterized by 
private property. The bourgeoisie tries to explain its 
individualistic and egotistic strivings as the unchange- 
able and basic qualities of human nature. But the only 
reason for this explanation is to justify the capitalistic 
order and to prove that this order corresponds to the 
allegedly innate egotistic strivings of man. Actually, the 
capitalistic order does not arise from these allegedly 
innate economic strivings of man. The real situation is 
rather the reverse: the individualistic psychology of man 
arises from the capitalistic order and, wherever that or- 
der is liquidated, the egotistic strivings disappear in the 

In a socialist society, the personal strivings of man 
are not opposed to the interests of society, but agree 
with them. Personal interests are therefore not repressed 
in such a society but, on the contrary, reach their full 
expression and development here, because they fully 
correspond to the interest of society. One fact at least 
can be used as an example. The motivation of the choice 
of vocation by Soviet youth is, naturally, personal since 
everyone chooses the vocation that suits him. There 
exist, in this respect, no restrictions in our country. 
However, Soviet youth is also guided in its choice of 
vocation by the idea of being of the best possible use 
to its country, and this social motivation is essential for 
our young people. Motives like desire for material se- 


curity or a "high" social position are totally absent in 
them. They know that, in their country, every vocation 
gives material security, and can lead to high honors and 
a position of dignity. The honorable title of "Hero of 
the Socialist Fatherland" is granted to men and women 
of all vocations who achieve successes in their chosen 
type of work. This harmony of personal and social in- 
terests, and their very unity, proves how wrong the theo- 
ries are which assure us that social influence can mani- 
fest itself only as the suppression of the personal strivings 
of man. 

Among such theories is, in addition to some tenden- 
cies of depth psychology, the theory of Freud. What we 
have already said fully justifies us in rejecting theories 
based on certain "depth strata" of personality. Their in- 
acceptability is also justified by the fact that they con- 
sider biological needs or the "subconscious," and not 
reason and consciousness, to be the determining factors 
of human personality. Consciousness is regarded by them 
as merely an instrument for the satisfaction of these 
needs. But consciousness is actually the highest form of 
psychic life and the highest stage of its development. 
Man is not characterized by the dominion of dark forces 
of the instincts or of the subconscious, but rather by 
the dominion of his reason which reflects the world 
clearly and correctly. We therefore consider the high- 
est aim of education to be the development of conscious- 
ness and the placing of the entire behavior under the 
rule of consciousness. Instincts and the subconscious push 
man back, reason leads him forward. Whoever wants 
to fight for progressive ideas, for a bright future of 
mankind, must reject the theories which hold that the 
psychic foundation of man consists of instinctive, in- 


born or unconscious strivings. All attempts to uphold 
such theories and to justify the conditioning of man 
by instinctive and unconscious strivings, are in the service 
of reaction. It is not for nothing that fascism has made 
much use of such theories. 

The problem of aptitude occupies in the Soviet Union 
a special position among the problems of the psychology 
of personality. How has Soviet psychology solved this 
problem? The great unfolding of talents among the 
Soviet people has proved for all time the falsity of the 
reactionary "theory" of the special aptitudes of the ex- 
ploiting classes and of the so-called "higher" races. It 
also confirmed the truth of Lenin's words on the or- 
ganizational talents slumbering in the people: "There 
is a lot of organizational talent among the people, i.e. 
the workers and the working peasants. But they are 
repressed, corrupted and eliminated by the thousands 
under capitalism, and, we do not know yet how to find 
them, encourage them and put them on their feet. 
(Author's note: Lenin said this in the first years of So- 
viet rule.) But we shall learn to do it, when we set out 
to learn with the full revolutionary enthusiasm, with- 
out which there can be no victorious revolution." These 
words of Lenin must, of course, be understood to refer 
not only to organizational talents but to all kinds of 
talent. The practice of Socialist construction in the So- 
viet Union has proved sufficiently the truth of these 
words. It has thus refuted all lying and unscientific 
theories which attempt to prove the right to existence 
and the special privileges of the exploiting classes and 
the "higher" races. It also refutes all theories of the 
mental and intellectual inferiority of the working classes 
and the "lower" races. It has been proved that the 


working masses of the Soviet Union, and in particular 
the peoples retarded by the Tsarist and capitalist yoke, 
can be raised to a high cultural level by the changing 
of their social and economic living conditions. 

Soviet psychology rejects the assumption of directly 
inborn abilities. Only certain anatomical and physio- 
logical characteristics of the organism, and especially 
of the nervous system, can be inborn in this sense. Abili- 
ties are always the product of a development which takes 
place under certain definite social conditions, under 
certain quite concrete forms of human activity and in 
the course of a long process of instruction and educa- 
tion. The peculiarities of the nervous system are al- 
ways explicable in several different ways. Given the same 
starting conditions, the result of the development, as 
expressed in the abilities achieved, will be quite dif- 
ferent, corresponding to the differing conditions and 
forms of education and instruction. 

Soviet psychology assumes that the successful execu- 
tion of any ability is based on all kinds of combina- 
tions of individual abilities. The loss of any special 
ability can never be an obstacle to achieving outstand- 
ing success in any sphere, for highly developed abilities 
can sucessfully replace other and less well developed 
ones. This possibility of a mutual compensation of abili- 
ties is extraordinarily great. Soviet psychology rejects 
the pseudo-scientific pretension to measure ability or 
talent in any form and considers its main tasks to be 
the analysis of qualitative characteristics of aptitude and 
the discovery of methods for the successful develop- 
ment of abilities. This is why we Soviet psychologists 
investigate abilities of all kinds. Our investigations have 
already opened up very rich possibilities of developing 


abilities through teaching and educational influences. 

Why does Soviet psychology reject the quantitative 
measurement of abilities and, in particular, the method 
of tests which is so widely applied by American psy- 
chologists? It rejects this method because it is founded 
on a fatalistic theory of aptitudes which considers human 
abilities predetermined through heredity and unchange- 
able by environment. In this way, it denies the existing 
rich possibilities of development. This kind of theory 
assumes that it is possible, by measuring abilities at a 
certain time, to determine the suitability of men for 
future forms of activity. The tests are given a prog- 
nostic value which they actually do not possess. It can- 
not be determined, without any further ado, from the 
way in which a man's abilities express themselves at 
any given time, how they will behave in the future. 
The possibility of their development is, in any case, 
extraordinarily great and it must be, moreover, remem- 
bered that abilities develop during and with the activi- 
ties of man. They are even, to an important extent, 
the result of the activity for which they are required 
and not the assumption or condition of the successful 
execution of such an activity. When an activity is exe- 
cuted, the abilities required for it develop in man. The 
influence of instruction and education plays a most 
important part in this respect. This is why the most 
important task of the teacher is to develop the abilities 
of his pupils. The fatalistic theories, on which the test 
method is based, deprive him of this task. When we 
pass, on the basis of tests, a judgment that is essen- 
tially fatalistic, we deprive the teacher of the possibility 
to explore all possible ways and methods of developing 
the abilities of his pupils. 


The tests have neither a prognostic nor a diagnos- 
tic value. They are not even capable of giving a true 
characterization of the abilities that happen to be ac- 
tually present at the moment of testing. Why do they 
fail to do so? The successful performance of an ac- 
tivity, the solution of a problem, do not depend on 
abilities alone. They also depend on the underlying 
motivation, on what drives us towards the solution of 
the problem. A simple fact will explain what we mean. 
An investigation proved that the capacity of memoriza- 
tion of children of pre-school age is influenced by moti- 
vation. The following experiments were made. In the 
first case, the children were asked to memorize certain 
words in the course of a play period. The children 
played at "kindergarten." One child took over the job 
of buying in a store certain things required by the 
kindergarten. In the second case, the children were 
asked to memorize the same words not in the course 
of a play period, but of an ordinary experiment, con- 
ducted in the way common to such experiments. The 
result was that the children memorized twice as many 
words in the first case as in the second. Why? Because 
the motives of memorization were not the same. 

The tests do not take into account the motives of 
human actions. Moreover, the motives of the children 
submitted to a test can be quite varied. Therefore, the 
results of the tests can never be quite correct, not because 
of differing abilities of the children, but merely because 
the children have quite different relations to the solu- 
tion of the problems presented to them in the test. 

The psychology of bourgeois countries has developed 
complicated procedures to help determine the diagnostic 
value of tests. It uses for the purpose the statistics of 


variations and obtains a quantitative determination of 
the correlation between the results of the investigation 
and successfully performed action. The authors of the 
tests seem to be satisfied if the limit of error is low. 

But Soviet psychology can never be satisfied with such 
a solution. It invokes the principles of humanism and 
therefore cannot accept even rare errors. After all, be- 
hind every error there is a living human being, a liv- 
ing child and his fate. This is by no means a matter 
of no consequence to a Soviet psychologist. He cannot 
offer his sanction to such an error, not even in a single 

Why then is the test method so widely proclaimed 
in capitalist countries? Because its results are used to 
serve political, reactionary class aims. Such tests are 
used to prove that the level of ability is lower in chil- 
dren of workers and peasants than in children of the 
propertied classes, and that the abilities of children of 
subject peoples are lower than those of children of the 
so-called "higher" peoples and "higher" races. These 
tests serve as foundation for the assertion that social 
inequality is based on and justified by such differences 
of aptitude. Actually, it is not social inequality that 
is caused by such differences in aptitude, but the dif- 
ferent possibilities of developing abilities are caused by 
the social and economic inequality of men in capi- 
talist society. If, in capitalist countries, the children of 
workers achieve worse results in tests than the children 
of property owners, it is not because they are less gifted 
but because they were greatly hampered in developing 
their abilities by their conditions of life, determined 
by the oppression, exploitation and social and economic 
inequality prevailing in these countries. 


If we reject the method of tests and measurements, 
does this mean that we do not think it is necessary to 
investigate the abilities of the pupils? No, we do not 
believe this. But we hold that a correct investigation 
of abilities is possible only if the child's activities are 
performed under his ordinary conditions of life, and 
when his abilities are not investigated statistically but 
in their development and change, in connection with 
the whole personality of the child, his instruction and 
education, his entire life. 

Such an investigation can be carried out by the teacher 
himself. He can investigate the child in all the forms 
of his activity and under the most varied conditions, 
and he can follow the change and development of his 
abilities. He must have an adequate knowledge of the 
child's whole life, of the conditions of his development 
and the peculiarities of his personality. Soviet teachers 
give a high importance to this task and perform it in 
their practical pedagogical activity. 

One of the most important theses of Soviet psychology 
—and also one of its most important problems— is the 
theory of the unity of man's consciousness and activity. 
Soviet psychologists believe that individual aspects of 
mental life must not be studied in the abstract, but in 
connection with the concrete activities of men. Thus, 
thinking, memory and attention cannot be studied by 
themselves, but only under the conditions of an activity, 
during teaching, work, etc. The subject of the investi- 
gations of Soviet psychologists is not the child's thinking 
in itself, but the process of his thinking in the solu- 
tion of mathematical problems, in applying the rules 
of spelling, in learning literal^ or scientific texts. Soviet 
psychologists do not investigate the memory processes 


by themselves, but the memorization of the varied ma- 
terials offered to the pupil in the course of his instruc- 
tion. They do not study the formation and growth of 
concepts in the way of, e.g. Narziss Ach, who investi- 
gated the formation of artificial concepts created by 
himself. They note how the pupils handle scientific 
concepts which are explained to them in the course of 
their schoolwork. Such a method of investigation is the 
only way to make psychology a true, living and con- 
crete science, with wide possibilities of practical appli- 
cation. This is the way which Soviet psychology has 

The theory of the unity of consciousness and activity 
places before Soviet psychologists the very impK>rtant 
task of giving a psychological analysis of concrete human 
activity. In this connection, particular attention is given 
to creative activity. The subject of investigation is, above 
all, the creative activity of the worker in production. In 
the Soviet Union, the worker is not a mere appendage 
of the machine. He is the creator of new and more 
perfected working methods, the organizer of the process 
of production, the designer and the inventor. The new, 
Communist attitude towards work, conditioned by the 
new production relations and the disappearance of the 
exploitation of man by man, produced entirely new 
forms of work. The activity of the workers became a 
creative work. This was expressed with the greatest 
clarity in the activity of the Stakhanovites. Their crea- 
tive work is a most important subject of psychological 
investigation. In the sphere of psychology of work, the 
investigators are faced with the very important prob- 
lems of discovering the psychological requirements of 
different professions. This is not a matter of investi- 


gating aptitudes for different kinds of work, but of 
studying the conditions under which, within the work 
of the profession, the necessary personal conditions are 
created, under which the work itself educates and changes 
the worker. A considerable number of studies of Soviet 
psychologists is devoted to the investigation of the crea- 
tive work of artists— painters, musicians, actors and also 
writers. This is also true of the work of scientists and 

Particular attention is paid to the investigation of 
the learning process, especially of the schoolwork of 
pupils of elementary and secondary schools. These are 
the problems that form the main content of Soviet edu- 
cational psychology. 

No less important in the work of Soviet psychology 
are the problems of the psychology of growth, and es- 
pecially the problems of the child's mental develop- 
ment, A question is raised in this connection which is 
so important that it deserves some detailed treatment. 
It is the question of our attitude to the peculiarities 
of growing children's behavior. In solving this question 
Soviet psychology starts from the thesis that the pecu- 
liarities of each age are not to be viewed as unchange- 
able and eternal characteristics of that age, independent 
of the concrete conditions of the child's life. Soviet 
psychology refers here to the social conditioning of the 
development of man and his consciousness. It proclaims 
the assertion that the peculiarities of the various ages 
depend on social and historical conditions under which 
the child's life, activities, instruction and education take 
place. If these conditions are changed, the specific age 
peculiarities also change. The correctness of this thesis 
is clearly proved by the remarkable changes in Soviet 


children under the influence of the new social condi- 
tions of life. Instruction and education must not there- 
fore be built on some "eternal" characteristics of each 
asfe, but rather must start from concrete facts formed 
under some definite social and historical conditions. 
They must also bear in mind their possible further 
development and growth, of which the child is capable 
at a given age, and the increase and intensification of 
that child's intellectual forces. 

The Soviet psychologists hold themselves entitled to 
assert, on the basis of the many investigations they car- 
ried out in the field of child psychology, that many 
concepts held by bourgeois psychologists concerning the 
nature of children do not correspond to reality. Among 
these erroneous concepts are the theses of Stern about 
the step-by-step development of the capacity for obser- 
vation; Piaget's thesis of the egocentricity of childish 
thought; the characterization of childish memory, and 
many others. All these theses do not do justice to the 
possibilities which slumber in each child of that age 
grade. They underestimate the growth possibilities of 
the child and distort the true picture of the child's men- 
tal development. 

Among the erroneous concepts mentioned above is the 
thesis of the allegedly inevitable crises which accom- 
pany some stages of the child's development, notably 
puberty. The reports of Soviet investigators and the 
educational practice of the Soviet family and school 
show, however, that these crises can be completely 
avoided when the child is instructed and educated in 
the right way and his life is lived under favorable social 
and historical conditions. 

Since Soviet psychology denies the immutability of 


the child's age peculiarities, it must also decisively re- 
ject the norms which are used to measure the child's 
intellectual forces and to determine the step-by-step 
process of his development. 

What are the methods used by Soviet psychologists in 
their work? The basic principle to which we refer all 
questions of method is this: we do not confine our- 
selves to any single method, but apply many and quite 
different ones. Our attention is concentrated on study- 
ing the processes that are of interest to us in the actual 
life of the child or under conditions which closely ap- 
proximate the ordinary conditions of that life. We there- 
fore make a wide use of the method of observation and 
live experiment, i.e., an experiment that is closely linked 
with the process of teaching and the pupil's work at 
school. Where it is a question of individual peculia- 
rities, we try to obtain as complete information as pos- 
sible about every pupil in order to understand the 
quality of his mental process in connection with the 
other sides of his personality. 

In all such investigations, we are interested not only 
in the results of the individual processes of behavior, 
but also in the way they take place. Thus, for example, 
we are not only interested in finding out how much 
a pupil memorizes under different conditions of learn- 
ing. We are also interested in the way in which he 
memorizes, in what he does to memorize, and in the 
course of the memorization process itself. We devote 
special attention to the qualitative aspect of the processes 
we study. 

I would like to make the following concluding re- 
mark. Soviet psychology, like all Soviet sciences, works 
under conditions that are extremely favorable to its 


development and growth. It is given the greatest atten- 
tion and care, and the government ofEers it large eco- 
nomic means for the realization of its work. Soviet 
educationists are given a chance to do a broadly con- 
ceived and many-sided scientific work. They form a sci- 
entific collective of men working together in a com- 
radely fashion. They are linked by their general tasks 
and by their aims, which are: to give an objectively 
correct explanation of the laws of development of man's 
life and consciousness; to reveal the real motives of hu- 
man actions; to show the rich possibilities of growth 
of man's intellectual forces; to provide better methods 
for the instruction and education of children; and to 
foster the formation of valuable personality traits. So- 
viet psychologists discuss their scientific problems in the 
widest possible way. 



A. N. Leontiev 

Psychology is not a part of the system of biological 
sciences. But it is very closely connected with the phys- 
iology of the higher nervous activity and animal psy- 
chology, i.e., the science of the development of living 
creatures. The problem of heredity also closely touches 
upon human psychology. 

The theories of the American biologist Morgan found 
their strongest expression in the work on animal psy- 
chology by V. M. Borovski. In his last publication, 
Borovski stated that a direct influence of external con- 
ditions on the heredity of living creatures is possible 
only through the action of factors which influence mu- 
tations, e.g.. X-rays. The theory that "a new milieu can 
not only change the characteristics of an individual but 
also influence it in such a way that the changed pecu- 
liarities are exhibited in its descendants," i.e., the theory 
of the mutability of the hereditary mass under the in- 
fluence of new living conditions, is described by Bo- 
rovski as the remnant of "a once widespread theory," 
as factually false and logically improbable. "There is no 


inheritance of acquired characteristics," writes Borovski.^ 
He adds to his statement the traditional argument: "The 
descendants of fishes whose tailfins were cut off, do not 
exhibit the expected abbreviation."^ 

This false, metaphysical conception of the immuta- 
bility of characteristics of living creatures hindered the 
solution of numerous problems of animal psychology, 
especially those of instinct. Darwin inaugurated the sci- 
entific treatment of these problems. He was interested 
in the importance of instinct in the life of the species 
and reached the realization that the development of 
species can only be understood by assuming the inher- 
itability of the changes made under the influence of 
new conditions of life that did not correspond to the 
existing instincts.^ 

The Morganists of today distort Darwin's theory when 
they proclaim that the inheritance of acquired charac- 
teristics is incompatible with a correct conception of the 
instincts.* They thus throw overboard the important 
contribution of Darwin which differentiates between in- 
stinct and the ability to perform a given action. 

The textbook of "General Foundations of Psychology," 
by S. L. Rubinstein, develops a false, objectivist view of 
the problem of inheritance and variability. The author 
does, indeed, defend the correct view of the decisive 
role of the environment, but also proclaims the erro- 
neous view that the question of the influence of the 
environment in the phylogenetic development of living 
creatures can remain an open one. Thus Rubinstein 
presents the theories of the Morganists and of Lysenko 
as equally important, although they are actually dia- 
metrically opposed.^ The theories of Morgan, Weismann 
and Mendel were much quoted and applied in the So- 


viet Union until the Central Committee of the Com- 
munist Party of the Soviet Union passed the resolution 
of July 4, 1936. This resolution which condemned pae- 
dology, i.e., the science of the special psychology of the 
child, also put an end to the "two-factor theory" which 
proclaimed the equal role of heredity and environ- 
ment. . . . 

In the last years, a correct view of the problem of 
heredity asserted itself in the work of Soviet psycholo- 
gists, especially as regards the decisive importance of 
education in the development of human personality. 
But the concrete questions on the nature of inherited 
tendencies, their mutability and their importance for 
the mental development of man, have hardly been dealt 
with so far. We can therefore point to only a very 
limited number of psychological studies which reach con- 
crete solutions of such questions. 

First of all, we must mention the studies of B. M. 
Teplov on the problem of inborn tendencies and on the 
development of abilities. Teplov further develops the 
important idea that only anatomical and physiological 
characteristics of the organism can be inborn. These can 
not be described as abilities; for abilities develop only 
in the process of the corresponding activities and are 
therefore dependent on the objective conditions which 
make these activities possible.^ 

It must, however, be emphasized that these and other 
psychological studies which deal with the problem of 
inherited human characteristics and their role in the 
development of the mental factor, are merely the first 
steps towards a scientific clarification. The theory of 
inheritance and variability of vegetable and animal or- 
ganisms cannot be mechanically transferred to human 

psychology. This does not mean, however, that psy- 
chology can avoid the problem of tendencies. On the 
contrary, psychology now faces the imperative task of 
providing the theoretical foundations for the solution 
of this problem. 

The triumph of creative Soviet Darwinism, as ex- 
pressed in the complete victory of the Michurinist ten- 
dency in the Soviet Union, also meant the foundation 
of a dialectical materialist theory of the development 
of living organisms. . . . The phylogenetic theory of 
Michurin and Lysenko has also been applied to psy- 
chology. . . . 

The most important problems of mental development 
are the questions of the historical development of man 
and of the individual development of the child. Two 
conceptions are diametrically opposed in connection with 
these questions: the idealistic and the dialectical ma- 

The metaphysical-idealistic conception views the de- 
velopment of the mental factor as a process of the un- 
folding of intellectual abilities inherent in man. The 
living conditions of man form only a background to 
this process. They make the abilities apparent and direct 
their development to one side or another, into one di- 
rection or another. Such a conception is characteristic 
of the bourgeois psychology. 

It is very closely linked with the tendency of bour- 
geois psychology to view the mental factor not histori- 
cally but as something abstract, unhistorical and "gene- 


rally human." But the so-called "generally human" char- 
acteristics of the factor are actually nothing but the 
characteristics of present-day man in a class society. The 
mental character of the members of the exploiting class 
becomes particularly apparent in this connection. The 
mental character of members of the exploited classes 
and of oppressed peoples is considered not to be up 
to standard and is explained through its primitive na- 

This conception of man became especially clear when 
reactionary psychologists openly entered into the service 
of military imperialism. They tried to prove in their 
writings that elementary psychological phenomena like 
work for payment or the love of money also had an eter- 
nal validity. Their rudiments could be experimentally 
proved to exist in anthropoid apes. Innumerable experi- 
ments were made to "prove" that human actions ulti- 
mately express only those needs, tendencies and instincts 
that are rooted in the "depths" of personality, and that 
the highest drives of men were merely a strange kind 
of "superstructure" above these "depths" and merely 
one of their manifestations. The primitive needs and 
motivations were therefore the strongest. "Thus, punish- 
ments and the need to satisfy hunger or the sex drive 
are stronger motivations than those of a social char- 
acter"— we read in a survey of results of investigations 
made abroad, published in an American psychological 
journal. It is even assumed that the most important 
needs and emotions are immutable in man— as is em- 
phasized by John Dewey. Since this erroneous view of 
the strength of biological factors is also extended to 
social phenomena, the foreign reactionary psychology 
reaches highly backward conclusions. It is enough here 


to say that this psychology attributed the origin of Ger- 
man-Fascist bestiality to ". . . the hysterical and paranoid 
tendencies of Hitler and Rosenberg" to which "the na- 
tion merely reacted in the same way,"'^ 

The progressive Soviet psychology considers the his- 
torical development of the mental factor from theo- 
retical positions that are diametrically opposite. Soviet 
psychologists start from the Marxist thesis that the con- 
sciousness of man is social and historical in its nature, 
that it is determined by social existence and that it 
changes qualitatively with changes in social and eco- 
nomic conditions. They explain the peculiarities of the 
mental factor not by so-called eternal properties of hu- 
man nature, but by the objective living conditions of 
man in society. Contrary to bourgeois psychology, So- 
viet psychology develops as a kind of social science, as 
the science of the experience of concrete and historical 

The psychological characteristics of human person- 
ality are viewed not as the product of the interaction 
of two extremely opposed principles, i.e., the biological 
and the social, or heredity and environment, but as the 
product of the development of human life and activity 
under the given social relations. The development 
process of the mental factor is thus not conceived as 
a process that is put into motion by external forces 
and elements, but as one which has as its driving force 
the inner contradictions of human life in society it- 

But life itself, the child's activity which determines 
in its course his mental development, is not sponta- 
neous—it is under the influence of education and in- 
struction. In a Socialist society, which does not develop 


spontaneously but is directed by men, education is the 
decisive force which forms man intellectually. It must 
correspond to the aims and the needs of the entire so- 
ciety, of the entire people or, in other words, it must 
fully agree with real human needs, and also with those 
of individual man. 

These theoretical conceptions of the development of 
the mental factor are characteristic of Soviet psychology. 
But it must by no means be concluded from this that 
Soviet psychology already possesses a fully developed 
Marxist theory of the historical development of the fac- 
tor. It must, on the contrary, be stated that this problem 
has so far received an inadequate treatment. We still 
have no fundamental research into these questions. The 
few studies that do exist, like the "General Foundations 
of Psychology" by S. L. Rubinstein and the "Sketch of 
the Psychological Development" by A. N. Leontiev, suf- 
fer, as was noted in scientific criticism, from considerable 

And so the most important task that now faces the 
Soviet psychologists is the creation of a historical psy- 
chology, a theory of the historical development of the 
mental factor at different stages of society and in rep 
resentatives of different social classes, of the basic changes 
in human experience produced by the abolition of pri- 
vate property and by the planned transformation of 
this experience under conditions of gradual transition 
from socialism to communism. 

Soviet psychology has done much more thorough work 


on the ontological development of the mental factor, 
i.e., on its development in the process of life. This is a 
central problem of child psychology and one of great 
practical importance. 

In a theory of child psychology we must, of course, 
also start from a consideration of the driving forces in 
the development of the child's experience. Contrary to 
the metaphysical theory of "two-factors" (i.e., heredity 
and environment) , according to which the development 
of the child's psyche is said to proceed fatalistically, 
Soviet psychology shows that this development is based 
on the growth of the child's living conditions and of 
his activities, which are determined by objective living 
conditions and education. 

The child enters the society of men with his very 
first steps into life. He learns from society the activities 
which it has developed and the language which re- 
flects the social practices of mankind. The child's en- 
vironment presents him with all kinds of tasks and de- 
mands and thus actively makes him engage in activities 
required by these tasks and demands. Thus, the social 
environment instructs and educates the child. 

This does not happen without a conscious setting by 
society of the aims of education and instruction. This 
conscious and purposeful process of education, which 
starts in early childhood, is continued, though in es- 
sentially different forms, in the kindergarten, at school 
and in social life. The mental development of the child 
is realized in this process. 

Numerous investigations by Soviet psychologists on 
the development of mental processes of children, e.g., 
of perception, memory, thought and speech, have given 
concrete proofs that the formation of these processes 


must not be viewed as the unfolding of innate abilities 
under the influence of all kinds of conditions of the 
milieu. This formation takes place in the course of the 
child's directed activities. The psychological characteris- 
tics that were hitherto fatalistically attributed to given 
stages of development, proved to be actually the products 
of the child's life which went on under certain definite 
social conditions, the product of the child's instruction 
and education. Rich possibilities of producing desirable 
psychological and character traits in the children were 
thus revealed. 

This does not, of course, mean that the general course 
of the child's mental development is not subject to a 
certain law, and that education is independent from 
the child's age and from the stage of development he 
has reached. To be able to direct the child's psychologi- 
cal development, one must be acquainted with its course 
and its respective stages. It is therefore necessary to deal 
once more fundamentally with the problem of the stages 
of the child's psychological development. 

The numerous periodisations, i.e., lists of stages, of 
childhood of bourgeois psychology are well known. All 
of them start, more or less, from the metaphysical con- 
ception of psychological development as an unfolding 
of the child's innate characteristics, i.e., from theories 
which falsely transfer so-called biological laws into child 
psychology. They identify the psychological with the 
biological development of the child, and use such phe- 
nomena as change of teeth or the development of the 
function of the sexual glands, to mark the stages. All 
these periodisations are attempts to present the psy- 
chological development of the child as a phenomenon 
of growth. 


The pseudo-scientific character of these periodisations, 
which are essentially paedological, is obvious. It is our 
task to oppose them by a periodisation of the child's 
growth that is founded on the dialectical materialist 
conception of development. The solution of this problem 
was made possible by the investigations, already men- 
tioned, of individual mental processes in the child and 
by studies of the development of various kinds of child 
activities— play, learning, work, etc. 

The study of the concrete activities of the child made 
it possible to link qualitatively differentiable stages of 
the psychological development with the most impor- 
tant forms of activity in the various periods of the 
child's life. At the same time it could be shown that, 
at each stage of the development of any kind of activity, 
other and more complicated forms of that activity were 
being prepared, which will eventually assume the lead- 
ing role in the following stage. It was also shown that 
each stage of development already prepares the leap- 
like transition to the following stage, and that this 
transition is necessary and regular. This discovery pro- 
vides a new foundation for the successive periods of the 
child's psychological development: these depend on the 
activities which determine in each case the child's life 
and on the typical relations of social life that link the 
child with other people and mark his position in so- 

To take one example, at the stage of development that 
starts with the child's entry into school, learning at school 
is his most important activity. It reflects a new type of 
life relations into which the child enters. By this activity, 
the child acquires a new position in society of which he 
becomes conscious, namely that of a Soviet pupil. 


Learning is, under the given conditions, the first socially 
important activity that is binding upon the child and is 
fixed by law. The quality of the pupil's work at school 
is the subject of an objective evaluation by society. It 
determines the relationship of the environment to the 
pupil and creates for him a certain definite position in 
his school and in his class: he becomes a good or bad 
pupil. With his new duties, the pupil also acquires new 
rights. He can claim from his environment that it should 
give him help and that it should grant him a considerable 
degree of independence. He passes into a new form of 
life, which he finds in the collective of his class and his 
school. At the same time, important changes take place 
in the child's intellectual development through the process 
of instruction. His memory and his thinking change; and 
he develops an ability of continuous and systematic 
thought. He takes part in the complicated relations of 
his new collective life, which form in him special moral 
ideas and sentiments. 

This example shows that the contents of the stages 
of the child's development are not unchangeable, but 
depend on the social conditions under which he lives 
and which make possible the varying contents of his life 
and activity. The stages of psychological development can 
therefore differ in their social conditions, for all their 
regular succession. At the same stage of development, one 
set of social conditions may require a transition to sys- 
tematic schooling, and another a transition to systematic 

The problem of the transitions from one stage of psy- 
chological development to another is particularly im- 
portant. These transitions occur in this way: essential 
changes occur in the psychological processes of the pre- 


ceding stage which are linked with the child's activities. 
They prepare the transition to a more complex form of 
life and the appearance of a new leading activity. The 
transition is not gradual but leaplike. 

Our educational task consists in directing the child's 
development in such a way that what he has achieved in 
the previous stage is continued according to plan so as 
to develop in the child qualities that will be of a decisive 
importance in the next stage. In other words, it is neces- 
sary to orient oneself not only by the existing possibilities 
of the child but also by the perspective of his further 
development. The transition to a new sphere of life 
relationships, to a new "position" in life, must not occur 
spontaneously but must be directed by education. The 
child must be presented in time with new tasks and in- 
cluded in a new sphere of relationships. Otherwise, this 
transition becomes a "crisis of development," i.e. a process 
which is erroneously attributed by bourgeois psychology 
to an "age of transition," as its necessary feature. 

The studies of the child's psychological development 
are by no means completed. The false metaphysical con- 
ception is not yet overcome, and we still come across it 
here and there in our psychology. It makes its appearance 
in the question of the interrelationship between psychology 
and pedagogy, e.g. in K. N. Kornilov. He does, indeed, 
emphasize the necessity of pedagogy to take into account, 
in educating the will, "the requirements of a concrete 
historical epoch," "the family conditions of the child's 
life" and "the moral abilities." But he also says that, for 
the psychological analysis of the act of will, "all this is in 
no way binding," and he closes his account with this 
statement: "The psychologist who occupies himself with 
the problem of educating the will, ceases to be a psy- 


chologist and becomes a pedagogue."^ 

Kornilov's point of view represents a retreat to theo- 
retical conceptions which isolate the mental factor from 
education and from life. They do not view it as the 
product of life, but, on the contrary, as its precondition 
which provides the child— and the man— with the pos- 
sibility of satisfying the requirements of instruction, edu- 
cation and life. 

These false tendencies sometimes manifest themselves 
in the ways of satisfying the requirements of pedagogy 
with regard to the so-called age stages. We mean the 
requirements which the pedagogue needs for the organ- 
ization of his educational work. These requirements are 
sometimes falsely understood so as to show only the 
existing "level" of the psychological development, but 
not the perspective of that development and— what should 
be most important— the actual laws of formation of the 
higher functions. Only these latter foster the pedagogical 
activity and the further improvement of the methods of 

These considerations emphasize, of course, the task of 
exploring the psychological development of the child. 
But they also emphasize the problem of linking psychology 
and practice, and in particular, the pedagogic practice of 
education and instruction, in a new way. 

The most important lesson to be drawn from the results 
of the Lysenko discussion of the Lenin Academy of 
Agricultural Sciences is the need to subordinate the devel- 
opment of progressive science to the tasks of progressive 


Socialist practice, A true scientific theory cannot be devel- 
oped without a close connection with practice. 

This lesson is of special importance to psychology. 
Bourgeois psychology which, especially as regards ideology, 
carries out the orders of the ruling class, has turned away 
more and more from the solution of really practical prob- 
lems, and busies itself essentially with imaginary problems. 

But even when it solved practical problems, bourgeois 
psychology remained only an observing and diagnosing 
science. The practical areas of bourgeois psychology are 
the professional selection, developed with the aid of the 
results of special investigations and mainly required be- 
cause of the existence of an army of labor reserves in the 
capitalist countries; the reform of schools with the aid of 
"intelligence tests" for children; the development of 
methods of rationalization and labor training aimed ex- 
clusively at a radical exploitation of the working popula- 
tion; problems of the influence of advertising, etc. The 
educational psychology of bourgeois countries, especially 
in its consideration of problems of child psychology and 
pedagogy, starts from theoretical positions that are typi- 
cal of paedology and deny the formative character of 
education. An education that corresponds to such con- 
ceptions is based only on the "natural" abilities of the 
children and influences merely the form of their ex- 

The socialist practice of education is, on the other hand, 
the practice of an active and planned formation of 
human characteristics and abilities. The great aim set 
for our society— the transition to communism— means a 
substantial rise in the intellectual level of the whole 
working population. This is the task of our schools, and 
of our whole educational and cultural system. It is also 


the task of our psychology. The consciousness of this task 
fundamentally changes our conception of psychology, of 
its connection with practice, of its concrete problems and 

Psychology changes from a registering science, which 
merely analyses the psychological processes and the pe- 
culiarities of personality, into a science of their mutability 
and transformation. From this point of view, the chief 
task of psychology is to study the processes through which 
science and ideology become the contents of human 
consciousness and deposit themselves in the psychological 
traits of personality. 

The first requirement for the fulfillment of this task 
is a different conception of the connection between theory 
and practice. Psychology must start from the progressive 
experiences of education in our society; it must analyse 
these experiences and draw from them scientific gener- 
alizations on the child's psyche in connection with the 
general formative influence of the conditions of life, 
education and instruction. This is the only way to turn 
psychology into a science of the laws of the transforma- 
tions of the mental factor which can fructify our practice 
in a progressive sense. The psychological development 
of man takes place through transformations which regu- 
larly appear in connection with the changes in his ac- 
tivities under the influence of new conditions and new 
tasks. This change in the activities and relationships of 
the child, the juvenile and the adult, is a process whose 
course is not evolutionary. It rather takes the form of 
sudden transformations. It is therefore no accident that 
the most progressive educational ideas— those of A. S. 
Makarenko— are ideas of a creative pedagogy, a "pedagogy 
of the events," which consciously and deliberately creates 


educational opportunities. 

This is also true of the process of teaching. To take 
an example: the child discovers, in his language classes, 
that the word, the language, are a peculiar reality— an 
object of knowledge and learning. Or else, in his mathe- 
matics classes, he achieves the transition to arithmetical 
fractions. These are events in the course of the child's 
school days, when he acquires the foundations of science. 

How do these transformations and development thrusts 
take place? What are their "mechanisms" and the psy- 
chological laws that rule them? What measures prepare 
the process of development thrusts? What difficulties 
exist here? 

The answers to these questions require that psychology 
acquire different methods. The abstract experiment, 
isolated from other methods of studying the laws of 
mental phenomena, is essentially an expression of a search 
for truth that is a stranger to reality and therefore cannot 
satisfy us. But we do not mean to imply by this that the 
method of experimental investigation, applied correctly 
and in its right place, should disappear from psychology. 
Rather, the importance of the experiment has become 
greater with regard to certain problems, though in a 
completely new form. In a certain sense it is the ex- 
periment of the pedagogical kind, although it serves to 
solve psychological problems. It requires a completely 
different organization of psychological investigation, 
which must be directly linked with practice and must 
undertake only the study of special questions. Such ex- 
periments should be undertaken jointly by psychologists 
and pedagogues. There exists a certain timidity in peda- 
gogical and psychological circles about such psychological 
investigations of problems of practical work. This timidity 


is a symptom of the fear of responsibility. We are of the 
opinion that this attitude is contrary to the demand to 
change psychology from an abstract science into a living 
science, closely linked with practice. We believe that the 
intensification of the sense of responsibility for the edu- 
cation of our youth is a must for Soviet psychologists and 
the necessary precondition of a successful further devel- 
opment of Soviet psychology. 


1. V. M. Borovski, The Problem of the Instinct (in Russian), 
in Reports of the Crimea Scientific Institute, vol. XI, pp. 99 f. 

2. Ibid., p. 104. 

3. C. Darwin, The Origin of Species. 

4. V. M. Borovski, Historical and Critical Remarks on Re- 
flexes and Instincts (in Russian) , 1946, p. 17. 

5. S. L. Rubinstein, General Foundations of Psychology 
(in Russian) , Moscow, 1945, pp. 32 f. 

6. B. M. Teplov, "Abilities and Aptitude" (in Russian), 
in Scientific Reports of the Institute of Psychology, vol. XI, 
1941. B. M. Teplov, The Psychology of Musical Peculiarities 
(in Russian) , published by the Academy of the Pedagogical 
Sciences of the RSFSR, 1947. 

7. W. Brown, British Journal of Psychology, 1944, p. 34. 

8. K. N. Kornilov, "Psychology, Pedagogy and Educational 
Psychology" (in Russian) , in Soviet Pedagogy, 1945, nr. 7, 
pp. 41 f. 



N. F. Posnanski 

Bourgeois psychologists and pedagogues mostly em- 
phasize the fatal influence of biological factors on man's 
developments and explain inborn characteristics through 
heredity. Human abilities are explained in theory as 
belonging to a specially formed aristocracy of birth and 
in practice as the privilege of the ruling classes and 
governors of colonies. Marxist theory, on the other hand, 
recognizes the individual differences between men, which 
appear at birth; but it does not see in inborn qualities 
any fatal predetermination of future talents and abilities 
that man develops in the course of his life. Individual 
differences between men are based on the existence of 
a definite physical organization and of particular natural 
life forces, which, according to Marx, are contained in 
man as tendencies and talents. Not everyone can be a 
Raphael, but only the person "in whom there is a 
Raphael" (Marx) . This does not mean, of course, that 
everybody in whom there is a Raphael actually becomes 
a Raphael. The development of Raphaelian talents de- 
pends on the conditions of life and on education. 


The inborn anatomic and physiological characteristics, 
as also the inborn type of nervous system, have much in 
common in all men at their birth. Individual differences 
express themselves but weakly in the vital function of 
individuals. Marx stated that "the original difference 
between a porter and a philosopher is less great than 
between a watch-dog and a greyhound. The gap between 
them exists through the division of labor." ^ 

Individual talent, as long as it "does not begin to 
function as an actual force, exists only as a tendency."^ 
The question here is to determine when it becomes active 
as an actual force. For the bourgeois idealist scientists 
and metaphysicians, it is from the very beginning an 
actual force, which directs the individual's development. 
The theory of dialectical materialism, however, excludes 
the existence of abilities before the appearance of the 
activity which first makes the ability effective. Ability is 
formed and develops only in the process of the activity 
that requires it. Marx noted that only music awakens 
the musical feeling in men. But to the idealists and meta- 
physicians, the role of the environment in developing 
abilities is reduced to the freeing of already existing ones. 
For the dialectical materialist, ability does not exist out- 
side the corresponding activity of man. The tendencies 
from which it develops are too indefinite and plastic; they 
are too multivalent with regard to future development 
to be able to determine the character of future abilities. 

Man is bom with the tendency to speak. But if the 
child did not live in the society of men, but among 
animals, this tendency would not develop at all. Con- 
ditions of life and, above all, education, determine which 
language the child learns and the degree to which he 
learns it. 


These facts lead to the conclusion that the concept 
"ability" has a historical character. The same applies to 
the connected concept of "talent." Human activity always 
takes place under concrete social and historical conditions. 
Different kinds of human activity are formed, change and 
disappear depending on their conditions; and so do 
human abilities. There can be no "philosophical talent" 
in a society that knows as yet no philosophy. 

The feelings of men, too, change like their opinions, 
depending on their activities and their concrete historical 
living conditions. 

Carlyle's chimera of "the animal nature of man burning 
in eternal hellfire," which tormented contemporary bour- 
geois pedagogues, does not exist for dialectical mate- 

But it is not only the abilities, talents and feelings of 
men that are historical in character: it is also their natural 
tendencies. It would be false to assume that these tend- 
encies are the result of a purely biological heredity. In the 
course of man's history, and especially of the historical 
development of work, numerous differences in natural 
individual talents are bound to develop. The ever growing 
division of labor plays a decisive role in this process. As 
Marx puts it: "The differences in the natural talents of 
individuals are as much the cause as the effect of the 
division of labor." 

In his critique of Stimer's view of the causes of the 
degeneration of individuals, Marx states that it had not 
occurred to Stirner to ponder these facts: that the child's 
capacity for development depended on the development 
of his parents; that the entire degeneration was created 
historically by the given circumstances and that it can be 
overcome by another historical development. Marx goes 


beyond this when he says that even naturally caused 
differences of birth, e.g. racial, can and must be abolished 
by a new historical development. This Marxian thesis 
disposes of all so-called race theories and of the political 
conclusions drawn from them. The conditions of life 
and work leave their imprint upon the individual's ana- 
tomic and physiological organisation and upon his nervous 
system. These results are to some degree passed on by 
heredity and consolidate in the descendants. Without 
such a heredity, there could have been no "humanization 
of the ape" or a further evolution of man. Pavlov's in- 
vestigations showed that the acquisition of certain con- 
ditioned reflexes by animals facilitates the development 
of these same conditioned reflexes in the descendants of 
the animals experimented upon. Within the series of 
generations always subjected to the same experiment, 
the conditioned reflex gradually becomes an uncondi- 
tioned reflex. This gives us a key to the understanding 
of the historical growth of the "hereditary differences." 
But, at the same time, it offers us the possibility of 
abolishing such differences. 

Which factors among the individual's living and work- 
ing conditions influence the development of his natural 
tendencies? The material means of production and the 
productive forces are the basic factors which determine 
the development of individual talents. Marx has thus 
analysed the factors which influenced the development 
of Raphael's pictorial talent: "Raphael, like any other 
artist, was conditioned by the technical advances of art 
that were made before his time; by the organisation of 
society and the division of labor in his locality; and finally, 
by the division of labor in all the countries with which 
his locality was in contact. It depends entirely on the 


demand for his work whether an individual like Raphael 
develops his talent; and this demand itself depends on 
the division of labor and the cultural conditions of men 
which develop from it."^ 

When we speak of the social conditions of the develop- 
ment of individual tendencies, we must emphasize one 
aspect of this process, i.e., the role of the collective. This 
is a difference of principle between dialectical materialism 
and the bourgeois theories, characterized by a pronounced 
individualism, viewed as a reflection of the economic com- 
petition. The bourgeois scientists develop their theories 
starting from the individual. Marx called these theories 

A particularly good example of such theories in the 
field of education is Rousseau's "Emile." All kinds of 
"paedocentric" educational theories make their appear- 
ance until our day. It is above all Dewey's pedagogy, which 
likes to speak of the education of children in the "com- 
munity." Dewey's view is best explained by his insistence 
that the child should become the center round which all 
the educational means turn. The Morgan-Mendel theory 
fully corresponds to his individualistic theory. 

The dialectical materialist viewpoint, for which no 
individuals developing in isolation exist, stresses, on the 
contrary, the social conditioning of individuals. Marxism 
proves that man finds only in the community the pos- 
sibilities for an all-sided development of his gifts. 

In this connection, it must be pointed out that Marx 
and Engels distinguished between a true collectivity and 
a substitute form which only pretends to have a collective 
consciousness. Such a substitute is the bourgeois State, 
which offers freedom only to the individuals of the ruling 
class and only as long as they belong to this class. 


The bourgeois pedagogues of imperialism who attempt 
to make the collective idea a reality in bourgeois schools 
through a pupils' self-government, a copy of the con- 
stitution of the bourgeois democratic State, create an 
apparent and substitute collectivity. Dewey's pedagogy, 
which wants to turn the school into "a cell of social, civic 
life," is a good example of an organisation of teaching 
and education founded on a substitute collective. The 
situation in a true collective is quite dijBEerent. Of such a 
community Marx says: "It is a collective of revolutionary 
proletarians who take over the control over the con- 
ditions of their own existence and of all the other mem- 
bers of Society. In such a collectivity, individuals partici- 
pate as individuals."* Such a true collectivity is the 
foundation of our Soviet system of education. It is not an 
accident but rather a historical necessity that the excellent 
educationist A. S. Makarenko should have appeared in 
the Soviet Union. He made "education by the collective 
for the collective" the motto of his pedagogical activity, 
and the excellent results which he achieved by his methods 
have, as Gorki emphasized, a world importance. 


1. K. Marx and F. Engels, Works (in Russian), vol. V, 
p. 380. 

2. Ibid., vol. IV., p. 286. 

3. K. Marx and F. Engels, On Art and Literature (in Ger- 
man) , Berlin, 1950, p. 89. 

4. K. Marx and F. Engels, Works (in Russian) , vol. IV, 
p. 65. - 



A. N. Leontiev 

A. The Steps of the Child's 
Intellectual Development 

r e 

It does not follow from the fact that education plays 
the decisive part in the child's intellectual development 
that education "can do everything" and that educators 
do not have to reckon with anything else. On the contrary, 
if they are to be successful in their educational and teach- 
^iJt ing work, they must always npte^oz:; the development of 
the children takes place. 

The intellectual and spiritual development of the child 
proceeds, like any other natural and social process, ac- 
cording to definite laws. This means that the develop- 
ment of the child proceeds consistently, from one stage 
of life to another. In this process, certain features of the 
childish psyche disappear, while others, qualitatively new, 
are formed. The educator must take this into account 
if he is to intervene actively in the process of formation 
of the growing personality^ 


There exist different periods or stages in the intel- 
lectual development of the child. The differences be- 

.Iween them are not pnly quantitative but also qualitative. 
The intellectual development of the child is linked with 
a deep qualitative change in .his personality. We can 
therefore speak of common psychological characteristics 
of children of certain aggs^ the pre-sdiool child, . the,^ 
beginner at school, the adolescent. "He is a typical pre- 
school child" or "this is a typical adolescent" are phrases 
in common use. Though children of the same age differ 
from each other, they have many things in common in 
spite of their individual differences— provided that they 
live under the same social and historical conditions. It 
is this that causes the immediate impression that children 
of the same age look alike in certain respects. 

The differences in the individual intellectual processes 

/ lik£ memory, thought, jetc. §re both qualita,jf|y,e,,-,and qu^^n: 
titative. It is a well-known fact that smaller children 
learn verses by heart with considerably greater ease than 
40 older ones. They can recite texts effortlessly and re- 
member what they have learned for a long time. On the 
other hand, children of pre-school age cannot be expected 
to learn material of a length that pupils of higher classes 
manage without further ado. The explanation is not 
tliat the memory^of a smalixhild is simply better or worse 
than that of an older child, but rather that itjis q^uali- 
latively different. What a small child easily memorizes 
may offer considerable difficulty to an older one, while, 
on the other hand, an adolescent may easily memorize 
something that is quite beyond the capacity of a young 
child. A four-year-old child that learned entire stories by 
heart and remembered them word by word, could not 
remember the names of the five fingers, i.e., five words. 


He was able to memorize them only when his mother 
made them part of a game. It is well known that small 
children, remember what they should learn most easily 
in playing. They cannot, as yet, set themselves the task 
■nf feinembering this or that. J|^ey..Jiii^;np]fi^g^^§i|j^ 
"what is remembered,.by,^^i|^.'' On the other hand, the 
''rtieinory of school children ..§nows quite different quali- 
tative characteristics. Children of that age group know 
how to remember deliberately what is rec[uired. It is 
therefore not true that the capacity of memorization 
simply increases with , age; it is rather that memoiy changes 
qualitatiyety. . 'W. 

The same thing occurs in the development of other 
mental processes. The child's psyche therefore changes in 
the course of his development. The child of kindergarten 
age differs from the third-grade child in the character of 
his mental processes and in the special psychological traits 
peculiar to each stage of development. 

In our country, learning at school starts at the age of 
seven. The most essential change^ of the mental develop- 
ment occur precisely during the school age: memory is 
transformed, the way of thinking becomes different, the 
more complex forms of collective life and the sentiments 
pertainijng.. thereto are formed, etc. 

This particular example already shows that mental 
development is improved at every stage of life, while. the 
child's psyche becomes more and more complex. It must 
be strongly emphasized in this connection that the content 
^Ijthese stages is not immutable or Jndependent^of^ the 
social conditions und^i: which the. child lives and grqws. 
'On the contrary, the content is determined by the con- 
crete social and historical conditions; it is they that give 
this or that content to the child's life and activities. The 


process of the psychological development of the child is 
therefore essentially different under qapitalism, which, in 
the words of Marx, robs the workers' children of their 
childhood, in contrast to our socialist order of society. 

The conditions under which the Soviet children grow 
up are determined by the collective character of their 
society. They therefore escape such phenomena as self- 
doubt, loneliness, contrast between ideal and reality, 
which are characteristic of the life of children living 
under capitalism and which bourgeois psychology wrongly 
assumes to be universal. 

The dependence of the stages of development of the 
child's psyche on the concrete historical conditions of life 
manifests itself also within the course of each stage. Even 
the general duration of the period of instruction and 
education, which is the period in which man is prepared 
for independent collaboration in social and economic life, 
has by no means always been the same. But it varied from 
era to era and was more extensive the higher were the 
requirements of society in each particular case. Also, in 
a society composed of antagonistic classes, it differed for 
children of different classes. 

The stage of development is thus neither absolute nor 

predetermined; rather it is dependent on the concrete 

cojiditions of development and can change accordingly. 

/ f The following list of stages of the child's development 

/ is~6ased on the study of the life and activity of children 

under the conditions of socialist societyTH 

1) the stage of infancy, which includes the initial 
period of the child's life (up to the age of one) ; 

2) the stage of early childhood (from 1 to 3 years) ; 

3) the stage of the kindergarten age (from 3 to 6 years) ; 


4) the stage of the early school age (from 7 to 10 years) ; 

5) the stage of the middle school age (from 11 to 14 
years) ; and 

6) the stage of adolescence (from 14 to 17 years). 

How does the transition from one stage to the next i ^ 
occurPj" '^v-^....-^. . -^. -^' - 

This transition could not take place if the child did not 
qhangeCin the course of the stage of development and 
thus prepare; himself for the transition. Actually, the 
psychological and mental forces of the child develop 
more and more in the course of the activities typical of 
the given stage of development. Thus, during infancy, 
the activity of the child grows, and his perception and 
movement improve. His hands and feet become stronger 
and the cerebral cortex develops further. All this prepares 
the independent activity of the child and paves the way 
for an irnproved form of contact jvith the outside world/ 
i.e., language. jt 

The child's educator has the task of continuing his 
development on the basis of what has already been 
achieved. Ahfive-allj it is necessary to foster^those^ ^^^^ u— "- 

teristics of the child which prepare him for the next 
.stage and which will therefore soon acquire a decisive 
importance in this connection. In other words, it is neces- 
sary to bear in mind not only the existing possibilities of 
the child but also the perspective of this further devel- 
opment. To do this, one must have a clear notion of the 
general course of the child's mental development. 

It is not our purpose here to offer an extensive and 
exhaustive treatment of the way in which the child 
develops in the different stages and of the peculiar char- 
acteristics of these stages. We shall limit ourselves to con- 


sidering some problems of development in the kinder- 
garten and early school ag€»=^ 

^JB. The Mental Development of Children 
in the Kindergarten Age 

At the threshold of the kindergarten age, i.e. towards 
the end of the third and the beginning of the fourth year, 
the child is generally accustomed to the objects in his 
(_^ surroundings and has learned to use them correctly. He 
knows how to handle the objects of daily use and likes 
\ to play with all kinds of toys. He can already speak 
fluently, listens with interest to short stories or verses, 
looks at pictures, etc. A wide field of phenomena opens 
itself to his eyes and ears. His activity is roused not only 
by things that he encounters directly; under the influence 
of earlier perceptions, he also feels the desire to do some- 
thing, to undertake something. The child always thinks 
up something else and tries to put his ideas into practice. 
This is the time when the desire to do everything by 
himself, so well known to the parents, becomes manifest. 
"By myself" is the child's slogan, even when he still 
rieeds the help of grownups so badly. 

What is behind this form of the chU4'§.. behavior? What^ 
does it express? 
V^ • A wide world of phenomena opens itself up to the 
child at the beginning of the kindergarten age, and he 
tries to grasp it. But a small child can grasp a phe- 
nomenon only concretely or "palpably." The child is 
anything but a passive observer of these phenomena. 
He wants to put into action through his own activities 


everything that he has seen and that he has learned 
from the stories of grownups or from his children's books, 
even though so much cannot as yet be accessible to him. 
This is the ground on which contradictions arise be- 
tween the diversity of the surrounding world that opens 
itself up to him and the limitations of his actual pos- 
sibilities of action. The new things that the child dis- 
covers in the world around him are, above all, kmd&L«.^ 
of human activity and mens attitudes towards things. 
The book, the exercise book, etc., are the things with 
which his elder brother, the pupil, has to do; the gun 
and the cannon are the sphere of activity of the soldier. 
The child sees all these things but it is forbidden to 
him to touch them and to handle them. He does not 
as yet possess the necessary skills. 

How are these contradictions resolved?Orhe way in 
which the children get over them is ^Tnew kind of 
activity making its appearance at that time: the creative 
playing of parts. This does not take place in the play 
of the earlier childhood. What matters to the child in 
this new kind of play is to act as exactly as possible 
the way his father or his brother, a chauffeur or an 
officer acts, i.e.. jLjq. take -QV.eE,,.an,d play a certain part. 
In this play, the children become familiar, through crea- 
tive activity, with certain events that take place in their 
surroundings: a railway trip, the visit of a doctor, the 
building of a factory. It might seem, at first glance, that 
such games lead the child out of the real world and 
into the world of fantasy and imagination. But it is 
not so. Let us take, as an example, children playing at 
"war." Everything here seems to be an illusion: a simple 
stick serves as a "rifle," little Peter suddenly becomes 
"Sergeant" and Vania "Major" and all this is but "make 


believe." But not quite. Such a game does not require 
the actual objects involved; nor is it a question of carry- 
ing out the actions exactly. What matters to the child 
is that jreality is correctly reflected in the contest of 
the actions of the game ajid in.thejrelations thj^^^^^ 
If^lHe game involves shooting, it can, of course, only 
be a make-believe shooting. But, on the other hand, 
since the real soldier must not desert his post and the 
real sergeant must not give orders to the real major- 
such things must also not happen in the game. 

The creative play with distributed parts is an ac- 

^^'^ tivity most important for^IKe inerital development of 

The child of pre-school age '(3 to 5 years) . Not only 

the child's imagination and fantasy are developed in it, 

but also his mental capacities. The play forms his per- 

^. sonality, his collective spirit. "The play," said Gorki, "is 

<-,, at the same time a way by which the children learn to 

^ know the world in which they live and which they are 

/ called upon to change." 

The creative play of pre-school age children must 
not be viewed as meaningless pastime and unimportant 
for the child's development. Rather, the best attempt 
must be made to direct this play and to enrich it. 
N. K. Krupskaya writes on children's games: "Even if 
the train in which they travel is made of chairs, and 
the house they build is made of bits and pieces, the 
child learns during play to overcome obstacles, to know 
the world around him and to deal with such difficulties 
as may arise." ^ 

When stimulating the children to educationally valu- 
able games, it must be seen to that they receive useful 
impressions and suggestions. This does not mean, of 
course, that everything which the child takes from his 


surroundings becomes part of his play and is accepted 
among his conceptions. It is sometimes necessary to di- 
vert the children from the play theme they had chosen 
into another, more desirable one. This can be easily 
done if the child knows that the grownups follow his 
play with interest and sympathy. 

It is good when the children play jix.the: pf esiejice^ of 
gT^i^3jjLps^-«A few words can achieve much in such a 
case, for the activity of the child in creative play can 
easily be diverted into the direction desired. 

Creative play is, as a rule, collective. As tlie roles are 
distributed, certain definite relations are created between 
the children which condition their behavior towards each 
other. The accepted role determines the child's behavior. 
"The daughter" must obey "the mother"; "the mother" 
must be loving; "the policeman" strict but courteous. 
We must not forget that the main thing for the chil- 
dren in these games is action and, in particular, an 
action which comes closest to reality. The children al- 
ways take seriously the content of the actions performed 
in the play. Therefore, a remark thrown in incidentally 
is sufficient to direct the behavior of the playing child. 
It is enough to say, for example: "Does it really happen 
that a policeman on duty is uncourteous?", and the 
quarrel among the playing children subsides. The play 
is a kind of school in which the child acquires crea- 
tively the rules and forms of human behavior and of 
tjhie reciprocal relations between men. The play of our \ 
Soviet children becomes, therefore, a school in whic 
they practically acquire the norms of Socialist behavior 
But, to make creative play truly fruitful, it is necessary 
to overcome the prejudice that play is a "free" activity 
which tolerates no intervention from adults. We must 


not shy from conducting and directing the play by rely- 
ing on its characteristic peculiarities. In creative play, 
the objects which the children have to use may be fic- 
tion, e.g., the stick instead of the rifle, the chair instead 
of the car. The movements of the playing may also be 
fiction, e.g., imitations of the actual motions that the 
hand performs in shooting, instead of the real thing. 
But the contents of these actions and the relations be- 
tween the people concerned are not fictions, for the 
child always strives after truth and reality. He always 
likes to listen to grownups explaining to him how this 
or that action "actually takes place in reality." This is 
what we can rely on when we direct their play and 
educate them in the process. 

The notes of a Moscow teacher, S. A. Cherepanova, 
are quoted below as an example of how children's games 
are directed: 

"Igor and the other boys have built a big bus from 
chairs, while the girls play with dolls. I suggest to Igor 
to invite the girls to a bus trip. 'I am the conductor, I 
punch the passengers' tickets,' says Galia. 'No, I want 
to be the conductor,' answers Vania. A quarrel breaks 
out. Vova argues with Igor about who is to be the 
driver. 'You were driving before; now it is my turn,' 
he says. The teacher must now intervene. I explain to 
the children that both driver and conductor have their 
shifts, and that one rests while the other works. The 
children like the idea of my trying to turn their play 
into the 'real thing.' 'Is this what always happens with 
real drivers?' asks Vova. Peace is restored. Igor passes 
the steering wheel to the boy who relieves him, while 
Vania waits until he can relieve Galia, now acting as 


Creative play forms many psychic processes of chil- 
dren of pre-school age, especially in the early and middle 
period. This is proved by the results of Soviet investi- 
gations. Thus, a study of the memory of 4 to 6 year 
olds showed that the number of words memorized in 
creative play is double the number memorized at the 
order of adults. The same is true of the child's ability 
to control his movements; this is especially important 
for the future, i.e., for the school years. Investigations 
of Soviet psychologists proved that normal time during y*^-. 
which children are able to pay attention to the position <„j^ 
of their upper body, hands and feet and to maintain 
them in a given position is 40 seconds. But in a game ■\ 
in which the children play at "positions" this time in- ^ 
creases more than sixfold. 

These examples show clearly why play must be given 
a great educational significance in pre-school age. The 
outstanding Soviet educationist, A. S. Makarenko, wrote: 
"In the education of the future personality, the play 
must by no means be abolished; it must rather be or- 
ganized in such a way that, while remaining play, it ' 
nevertheless develops the qualities of the future worker 
and citizen." 2 

It must not, however, be assumed that the entire de- 
velopment of the child of pre-school age occurs in crea- 
tive play. The play is but one of the ways in which the 
child comes to know the surrQunding world. 
"Tntroduction to culture is another important way to Z-— ** 
the child's mental and moral development. A. S. Maka- 
renko rightly maintained that cultural education must 
begin as early as possible— before the child knows how 
to read and write, as soon as he is able to see, hear and 
speak properly, 


The cultivation of a proper attitude towards books 
is a matter of urgent necessity in this connection. We 
must not believe that the child's attitude to books is 
something that forms only at school, when he has learned 
to read independently. Rather, it develops at the earliest 
age. When the child sees that the grownup members 
of his family read books attentively, when he realizes 
that books play an important part in their lives, he 
acquires, a respect for books. When the child looks at 
pictures and listens to stories and tales, he not only 
enriches his mental outlook, but also becomes interested 
in books. TW,§,„iaterest prepares Jnm,jp^,j£aLa..^^^ 
and writing. Even the newspaper, which the grownups 
"constantly use to keep informed about events in the 
outside world, no doubt plays a. certain part in the 
early impressions of the child. 

Even more important for the development of the child 
>o are such things as his practical activities the demands 
'^ * made upon him by the grownups, and.Hffis position in 
the_fai]Qily»:^These things determine the development 
of the psychological qualities of his personality which 
will be all-important for ^^ future work and life in the 

Neffatfve traits of character such as egoism or cal- 
Jousness are cause^tf both by a defective education foj 
■v^ork and by an insufficiently developed sense of c 
lectivity. An exhaustive investigation of these problems 
would go beyond the limits of our study of the mental 
"and psychological development of the child. These are 
special pedagogical problems. We will limit ourselves 
to pointing out the most imp^jtarU: cond-itionSoOiL^aii. 
adequate education of the child in this respect. 

One of the most important of these conditions is that 


'^^ the child becomes familiar, from the very beginning, 
with the work of his parents and other members^ of his 
family. "The child must learn, as soon as possible, where 
his father or mother works, the kind of work they do, 
whether it is heavy, what kind of effort it requires and 
what achievements it brings. He must know that his 
father or mother are engaged in productive work and 
must realize the importance that their production has 
for the whole of society. . . . The child must understand, 
as soon as possible, that the money that his parents 
Bring hoine is not merely a useful thing to spend, but 
the reward for a great and socially useful work. The 
parents must always find both time and simple words 
to explain this to the child. If the mother does not 
work outside, but at home, the child must also come 
to know and respect her kind of work; he must under- 
stand that it, too, requires effort and strain,"^ 

The second important condition is that the child 
acquire certain working skills already at the kindergarten 
age. The child should gradually be given certain simple 
but continuous tasks, such as, to water flowers, to feed the 
cat, to clear up his own things and toys, to take the incom- 
ing newspaper to a certain place every day, etc. 

Our socialist society produced the Soviet family, th^' 
germ cell of our society, pervaded by the collective spirit. J 
This has created quite new conditions for the family cdu-S. 
cation. It is most important that this favorable opportunity / 
should be made use of fully. The child must not be alien- \ ^-' 
ated from family life; he must rather be led to this life, so 
that he can feel himself to be a member of the family 



C. The Early School- Age Child 

When the parents are asked what they believe to be the 
most important thing in the development of their school- 
age children, they generally answer: "How he learns at 
schdot." We must, of course, agree with this answer. It 
is therefore very understandable that many parents pay, 
as a rule, so much attention to the successes of their chil- 
dren at school. But all parents do not realize— far from 
it— that the performance of their children at school 
depends, especially at the beginning, on the way in which 
the child has been prepared for his attendance at school. 
Many parents seem not to understand fully the very ques- 
tion of the degree of the preparation of their children 
for school attendance. But this question must be treated 
with the utmost seriousness. The successes and failures of 
the child at school depend on it. 

What do we mean when we talk of "the child's readiness^ 
fpr school"? 

Instruction at school makes, from the very first days, a 
series of demands on the child. When he enters school he 
must already possess a certain knowledge and some simple 
skills. The more of this knowledge and skills he has, the 
better he is prepared. The preparation must, of course, 
come as early as possible. Great attention is paid to this 
preparation in our kindergartens. There, the children 
are subjected to organized activities which are to prepare 
them for attendance at school. But the child must also be 
prepared for school in his family circle, as regards his 
general mental development. 

From his very first days at school the child must learn 
how to listen to the teacher actively and without letting 

himself be distracted. He must memorize what he is asked 
to remember and not what he is interested in, and he 
therefore remembers, so to say, automatically. It is no 
less important that he pay attention to his behavior. 
He must be able to sit still at his desk, and to get up 
from it together with the other pupils of his class. But 
the most important thing of all is that the child be edu- 
cated into a proper attitude towards school a.ttendance 
^nd given a proper understanding of the importance of 

The child's going to school is an extraordinary milestone 
in the course of his life. By going to school, the child enters 
upon a new stage of his development which gives his life 
a new content. The child consciously acquires at school 
a new position in human society^i.e., the rank of a Soviet 
schoolchild. Learning becomes mr him an obligatory and 
social activity which is determined by law. The quality 
of his learning activity becomes the subject of an objective 
social evaluation; it determines from now on the attitude 
of the environment to the child. His performance gives 
him a definite rank in his collective, e.g. he may become 
a model pupil. 

Together with new duties, the pupil acquires new rights. 
Thus, he has from now on the right to expect that grown- 
ups bear his school tasks in mind and do not disturb him 
at his homework. 

A beginner at school n^ust be prepared not only for „ 
systematic acquisition of knowledge, but also for the neWi^^ 
social relationships which are formed at school, ^ 

It is a well-known fact that children of pre-school age are 
eager to go to school. This desire for school is a necessary 
and important condition of readiness for school. When the 
child becomes a pupil, he enters upon a new life, starts 


upon an activity whose importance is recognized by all. 
Everybody takes school seriously, even the newspapers and 
radio publish reports about it. This desire for school must 
be fostered, for it is the foundation for the most important 
thing ,Q£,aU;j a propex^^osmdou^L^nd responsi^^ attitude 
of children towards their school as a. whole. 

Soviet school children are generally respected. It is there- 
fore necessary that the child encounter within his family 
such respect for his school, for his teacher and for the 
dignity of a Soviet pupil. 

It is also important to form in the child a^roper atti-^^ 
mde towards his learning activity. Learning requires from 
him the capacity to achieve a definite result. The child 
must not merely dispose of the homework in a perfunc- 
tory manner. He must really "learn" it, i.e get to know 
it thoroughly and not superficially. The child must there- 
fore learn to estimate the results of his learning activity 
correctly. Already the kindergarten pupils of the later age 
groups must be educated to strive consistently for the 
achievement of a definite purpose and to finish what they 
have started, even if it is of minor importance. The per- 
formance of the child must be carefully watched. His 
achievements must be given recognition, and even his 
smallest successes must not meet with indifference. 

Learning at school requires systematic work from the 
child. A pupil who is not used to work will never be able 
to learn properly. As we said above, the capacity for con- 
secutive effort and the proper attitude to work must be 
developed in the child already at the kindergarten stage. 

The experience gathered in our schools shows that the 
children who had to carry out certain definite if small tasks 
at home before they entered school learn more rapidly 
than others how to organize their schoolwork properly. 


These are the chief elements in the development of the 
child's personality during the preparation for his attend- 
ance at elementary school. 

The importance of the school for the mental develop- 
ment of the child is extraordinarily great. If we consider 
more closely the changes in the child's mental processes 
in his school years, we imd. that all these changes take 
place under the influence of the systematic instruction 
received at school. 

From his very first year at school the child gradually 
develops the ability to listen to the teacher's explanation 
with ever greater endurance and concentration. This 
means that the child's aUenj^2jU3£Uffl^.m8l£.S^ 

Memory improves more and more under the influence 
of the teacher's instruction. The child memorizes edu- 
cational material and learns many things by heart. His 
memory increasingly acquires a clear and logical character. 

Particularly pronounced is the development of the 
child's thinking in the school years. In the lower grades, 
thinking is still rather concrete and bound up with pic- 
torial representation. At this age, the child's thought still 
sticks largely to facts and ideas that can be vividly illus- 
trated. What the child has actually seen and heard plays 
an important part in his thought. 

The child learns at schoc^^gjoaa^S^^co^ggi^^^^^ 
izat iqns.^jgJCefl.,tJtliQUt«^^i;fi^^ phgripmena ; but 

these generalizations are not yet precise or systematic 
enough. Bv accj u iri pg knowledge systematically, the child 
learns to think^ ranjistently, i.e. tp, bind Jndivid^^ 
nomena into logical connections. 

THe* mother tongue is of great importance for the 
mental development of the younger school children. By 


learning his mother tongu^ the child not only acquires 
the a;bilin^;,^g;^jj;^(i^^ important "in 

tnemselves for his mental development— but also con- 

ur Sov iet school does not limit itself to transmitting 
kppwledge to the child and developing his mental 
ji^rocesses. It also educates him and forms his personaTTTy, 
ihe personality of a Soviet patriot and of a future fighter 
?for Communism. The school also opens up for the child 
those wide oerspectives that await him in our Socialist 

We all know the great successes of our school. The 
heroic deeds of its pupils in work and battle are known 
the world over. But our school is not alone in its activity. 
In its work it has the support of the Soviet family and of 
our entire^9mniunity^ In educating tnemiMrtiie school 
works hand in hand with the family. It is therefore inad- 
missible for parents to say that they "need not bother any 
more" about the mental development of their child and 
the formation of his personality, "because the school is 
taking care of all that." Successful instruction, good edu- 
cation and a proper course of the child's development all 
presuppose tireless effort on the part of the parents. 

We have already mentioned the importance of a 
proper attitude on the part of the child towards his school 
and his duty to learn, even before he begins to attend 
school. The importance of this attitude becomes even 
greater once the child is at school. A new task arises here 
for the teacher: to put this gpp'gp of jj^^lX. "P*^^ ^^^^^^ foun- 
dations and to strengthen it— for a full development of 
the pupil's personality is impossible without it. This 
sense of duty must be fostered from the very beginning 
of school. Its absence will produce very deleterious effects 



in the future and will lead to the gi'owth of most unde- 
sirable character traits. How is the proper attitude towards 
school and its duties consolidated in the child? Abo\'e all, 
by an attentive and understanding behavior of the grown- 
ups towards the child's learning activity. They must always 
speak of instruction at school with respect and approval, 
and must ahvays rouse the child's interest in his school- 
work. From the very beginning of his school attendance, 
the child must be urged to do his schoolwork according 
to plan. Above all, a certain definite time period is to be 
fixecTin which the child must do his daily homework. The 
child must also be helped to prepare a working plan to 
provide for the performance of his homework and for the 
necessary periods of leisure. 

At the beginning, it is very important to urge the child 
to be careful in his schoolwork and to exercise a certain 
self-control. After all, the little pupil does not yet know 
how to work properly and how to do his homework: he 
often keeps his books and exercise-books in disorder, not 
because he is disorderly by nature but only because he 
simply does not know yet how to handle such things. The 
same applies to his self-control. It sometimes seems to him 
that he has done his homework thoroughly. But this may 
not actually be the case: he may have "overlooked" this 
or that, and the homework is not at all "done." The child 
has not checked this— sometimes he is altogether unable 
to do the checking. 

It is at home that the child migL§jt,consolidate dxe ability 
to learn which he has acquired at school. This is why 
parents must always show interest in what the teacher 
requires in this respect. Their interest not only helps the 
child to remember the teacher's instructions in time and 
to follow them; it also accustoms him to the idea that 


these instructions are something that grownups take seri- 
ously and respect. 

But sometimes the interest of grownups in the child's 
homework turns into a wrong and inappropriate form of 
help. Some parents, when supervising the homework and 
making the child do it, tell him what to do and how to do 
it— they even solve the problems for him! A teacher re- 
ported in the magazine "Family and School" that "a 
mother, to ease her son's homework, used to read aloud 
the oral assignment, which the boy merely had to repeat. 
We also know another mother who solves the problems 
with the pupil: she reads the assignment and formulates 
the questions— while the pupil writes the answers in the 
exercise books without mistakes and without inkblots!" 

And here is another example of wrongly understood 
"help." Nina, a third-grade pupil, sits at home doing her 
homework. The mother does some other work in the same 
room. From time to time, Nina asks a question. For ex- 
ample: " 'How much is seven times eight?' 'Fifty-six', an- 
swers the mother mechanically, and thinks she has done 
a good deed and has helped her daughter with her home- 

Although Nina is already able to solve such problems 
by herself, she is used to help, even if she does not need 
it. Such "help" cannot be justified: it produces no positive 
results, only negative ones. If the homework is taken from 
the child, he becomes irresponsible and gets used to rely- 
ing on others instead of on himself. 

It is, of course, necessary to help the pupil if need be, 
to take interest in him and to keep a check on how he does 
his homework. But one should not impair the independ- 
ence of his work or take away his responsibility for, it. On 
the contrary, his independence and his sense of jesponsi- 

74 ^ 

bility must be fostered by all possible means, 
^^r^the chilB. is to maintain a serious and correct atti- 
tude toward his education, he must be aware that his 
parents, too, respect his school and his teacher. We can- 
not expect a child to have respect for his school and 
for the authority of his teacher if his family is wanting 
in such respect. Such things happen, alas. "Komsomol- 
skaya Pravda" reports the case of a woman teacher who 
asked the mother of a bad pupil to come to her for a 
talk. She received the following answer from the girl 
herself: "Mother says, if you need her, you can come 
to her." 

One cannot help feeling indignant over such things. 
Such an attitude not only undermines the proper atti- 
tude of the child towards his school and his teacher; 
it often also hurts the child's feelings and injures him. 
The principal of a Moscow school reports: "When Mira 
heard her father, who was looking over her exercise 
book, make a negative remark about her teacher, she 
cried and said, in tears, that she would never again 
show her exercise books to anybody." 

The development of the child's personality in ele- 
mentary school consists not only of the extension of 
Tiis knowledge, the cultivation of his thinking and simi- 
lar rnental processes, but also of the formation of a 
conscious, responsible attitude to his duties, of his edu- 
cation in a'liense of duty. But this is only possible if 
the pupil respects his school. This feeling of respect for 
the school is theljBjcsL step in developing a consciousness 
that to learn well is "the greatest patriotic deed of a 

Mil m i l — '■"•' ""-'"■n f''Tii ' "r ii n * Tl " " 'i "r"'~" ''""'^"rrri|iiii'iin'iiaiir imiinnii , 

Sovier'chiid, in the words of M. I. Kalimnu**''***^^ 
""^Ttis wrong to assume that the younger pupil can- 
not achieve the consciousness of the social importance 



of his learning activity. Learning at school offers the 
possibility to satisfy the child's awakening desire for a 
new rank in life. This new rank includes for the child 
meconsciousness that he has become a learner, a pupil. 
His attitude towards education must therefore be cor- 
rectly developed in the days to follow. 

Other essential changes that are characteristic for this 
^.-J" " stage of developmen| are the formation of a conscious 
discipline, and the 'development of the capacity for sys- 

^ ^ tematic work. Tliese are the first and most important 

y^-^steps in the development of the child's will. Thelamily 
'"'' ^ ' also plays an important part in the formation of this 
characteristic of the child's personality. 

To form the child's wilk he must be urged to get 

^#*-- used^^ unerringlyajna"' without deviation, to a certain 

fht^iyox^^ which should include the performance of certain 

^-.ii.*^^^*'*^^^mestic duties. This order has an immense importance 

in the child's life. When the child is, for any reason, 

withdrawn from, his accustomed order and lives /j. g^ , ^^^ - 

d(^j^ his general condition worsens, he becomes dis- 

^.^WiiTOfied and irritable. - --- .-»^-.,.._ 

,\ Finally, we must emphasize another important change 

T ■( in the child's psyche which occurs during the "IcHool 

\ -years. " ^ ^ ^ ^^^ 

The very entrance into school, i.e., into a collective,^ 

places the child in conditions which give him a pow 

ful inipulse^ Joward^^ th^^^^ of the collectiye 

spirit and of the- GomiriDn care for good learning. His 

collaboration in the social organization of children is 

also essential for the development of these collective 

traits of character. The parents act very correctly when 

they permit and encourage their child to take part in 

the work of the "Pioneers" (i.e., Soviet Boy and Girl 


Scouts) . The following incident is interesting in this 

The girl L. was asked by a group of pioneers to take 
part in a sporting event so that she could defend her 
title as best sportswoman. But the girl refused on the 
ground that she was to go to the theater that day. She 
was urged, she was told that a theater ticket would be 
available for her for another day, but she persisted in 
her refusal. The parents found out about this, came to 
the Pioneers' meeting, and criticized their daughter's be- 
havior. This made a great impression not only on the 
girl herself, but on the others as well. On the other 
hand, the attitude of parents who underestimate the 
participation of their children in the social organiza- 
tions of children is wrong. It happens that even an 
event as important in the child's life as his entrance 
into the Pioneers organization is not given its due im- 
portance in the family, is not discussed, and does not 
become the occasion for a family celebration that the 
child remembers for many years. 

The parents do not always show sufficient interest in 
the child's activities in the Pioneers, which is likely to 
spoil the child's joy in these activities. 

The mental development of the child is by no means 
a process which takes place independently of education. 
On the contrary, the development of all the child's rela- 
tions with life and reality, of his entire activity and 
consciousness, is determined in its course by education. 
At the different stages of the child's development, it is 
now one relation to reality and now another, now one 
kind of activity and now another, that plays an impor- 
tant part. But whatever stage of development we might 
consider, we will find that not only the kindergarten 


and the school, but also the family, plays a significant 
role in the formation of the child's personality. 

We address the parents with the words of F. E. 

- ' "You are faced with an immense task: to educate and 
f to form your children. Be on guardl For the parents 
\ bear a high measure of responsibility not only for the 

Xir- " •"" """■'■ " ■"" '" "■' """■■'" 


1. N. K, Krupskaya, The Role of Play in the Kindergarten 
(in Russian) , Pedagogical Publishing House, 1948, p. 5. 

2. A. S. Makarenko, Lectures on the Education of Children, 
Volk und Wissen Verlag, Berlin/Leipzig, 1949, p. 37. 

3. A. S. Makarenko, Lectures on the Education of Children 
(in Russian) , p. 84. 

4. From Soviet Pedagogy, Nr. 11/12, 1941, p. 56. 



G. S. Kostiuk 

The Soviet psychologists, armed with the theory of 
dialectical materialism, have set about creating a theory 
of the growing personality. Soviet psychology has gene- 
ralized from the experience gathered in the education 
of the younger generation of our people in the spirit 
of communism and the successful formation of the con- 
sciousness of adults in the process of Socialist construc- 
tion. It is based on the investigation of questions of the 
psychology of education, instruction and development, 
and on the scientific results of the related sciences. It 
also makes use of everything valuable developed by the 
great thinkers of the past. Soviet psychology has there- 
fore already achieved some remarkable results which com- 
pare favorably with fatalistic Western psychology. 

Lenin wrote: "Everybody in the twentieth century— 
or even at the end of the nineteenth century— agrees 
with 'the principle of development.' Yes, but the super- 
ficial, thoughtless, accidental, philistine 'agreement' is 
an agreement of a kind that stifles and blots out truth." ^ 
The agreement with the principle of development 


reached by the bourgeois child psychology, bom at the 
end of the nineteenth century, an age of sharpened 
class war, was such a means of stifling and trivializing 

Preyer, whom the bourgeois historians of psychology 
present as the founder of child psychology, offers a clear 
and unambiguous formulation of the aims of that branch 
of psychology in the introduction to his book "The 
Soul of the Child." He writes there: "It must, above 
all, be clear that the basic functions which emerge after 
birth, are not formed only after birth. If they did not 
exist before birth, it would be impossible to determine 
where they come from." Therefore, "some parts of the 
ovum content must undoubtedly possess potential men- 
tal capacity." This human capacity is not therefore 
"formed anew every time from material incapable of 
sensitivity, but is differentiated in ovum parts as their 
hereditary characteristic." In other words, "the soul of 
the child is not a tabula rasa"; rather, it is inscribed 
"with many illegible, irrecognizable and invisible signs." 
He sees the task of his book, and the job of child psy- 
chology in general, to note and illuminate these signs 
so as "to recognize and decipher the secret writing in the 
soul of the child." ^ 

Thus Preyer formulated— ninety years after the Rus- 
sian radical Radishchev and over forty years after the 
Russian critic Belinsky wrote on the same topic— his 
conception of the child's psyche, which is often idealis- 
tic and is hostile to the true principle of development. 
His theory shaped the character of most Western stud- 
ies of child psychology at the end of the nineteenth 
and the beginning of the twentieth century. 

It is no accident that this branch of psychology was 


formed contemporaneously with the pedagogical theo- 
ries of Stanley Hall, Kilpatrick, and others, and with 
the theories of heredity of Weismann and Mendel. The 
motivation for these theories lies, as our great Darwinist 
K. A. Timiryazev pointed out, in the wish of the reac- 
tionary forces to stop the progress of the materialistic 
conception of life; in the revived clerical reaction against 
Darwinism; and in the flare-up of a narrow-minded Ger- 
man nationalism. As he put it: "The future historian 
of science will regretfully note the penetration of cleri- 
cal and nationalist elements in the brightest sphere of 
human activity, which aims at uncovering the truth and 
protecting it from all abuse." ^ 

According to these conceptions, the development of liv- 
ing organisms is reduced to a simple repetition and 
regeneration of those characters and properties which 
are allegedly contained from the start in some heredi- 
tary mass that is autonomous, independent of the or- 
ganism, uninterrupted and imperishable. Nothing new 
is formed in this process. These conceptions, under 
cover of phrases about evolution, essentially deny true 
evolution and restore the idealistic ideas of preformism, 
which had long ago been abandoned. As Timiryazev 
put it: "This makes it understandable why they were 
taken over with such glee by the enemies of all theo- 
ries of evolution, and why anti-Darwinists and parsons 
joyfully embraced Mendelism and soon created a whole 
school, whose 'blissful' field of action was open to every- 
one. For no knowledge or capacity was required, not 
even the ability to think logically."* 

It is also understandable why these reactionary Weis- 
mann -Mendel -Morgan conceptions of heredity, which 
are hardly ever applied in the practice of bourgeois agri- 


culture, were so widely applied to man and why, in 
so many reports on investigations and lectures on child 
psychology by men like ClaparMe, Biihler, Thorndike, 
etc., the results of experiments with sweetpeas and fruit 
flies were so widely applied to human heredity. These 
authors wanted to find a theoretical justification for 
their obsolete metaphysical theories of human person- 
ality. By proclaiming the immutability of man's psychic 
qualities, they tried and still try to prove the eternal 
character of capitalist conditions and to justify racism, 
cosmopolitanism, etc. 

We can justify this assertion by some examples. Thus 
K. Biihler, whose idealistic conception of the child's 
psychic development aims at proving how, in general, 
"the spirit (Geist) becomes what it essentially (an sich) 
is," makes an extensive use of the Weismann-Mendel 
theory of heredity for his proofs. He not only asserts 
that this theory has allegedly directed the study of hu- 
man heredity into a "certain definite path that is rich 
in prospects," but tries to apply it directly to the study 
of the growth of mental characteristics, of individual 
differences and even of the peculiarities of moral be- 
havior. He explains the differences in moral behavior 
not by the unfavorable conditions of capitalist society 
that drive men into committing crimes, but by heredity. 
He writes: "There are men who have from their youth 
an indestructible desire to be thieves and tramps, and 
who become in later life regularly returning guests of 
prisons and penitentiaries. They possess a fatal inher- 
itance which is transmitted from generation to genera- 
tion with the same regularity as any simple bodily 
characteristic. . . . But it must be borne in mind that 
this tendency makes these men commit acts that lead 

82 ^ 

to terms in prisons and penitentiaries only so often as 
is required by the Mendelian laws."^ 

Other authors reach the same conclusions. E. Hugue- 
nin ignores the very statistical material which she quotes 
in her study and which proves the frequency of juvenile 
delinquency in bourgeois society, when she asserts in 
her study that the causes of this delinquency lie in 
"pathological hereditary tendencies" and "hereditary de- 
generations" which "explain the anomalies of reason, of 
will and of emotion." She goes on to say that: "The 
biological study of the juvenile delinquent proves that 
he is almost always the victim of a difficult heredity and 
that he is burdened with physical and mental defects 
inherited from his forebears."® 

The Weismann-Mendel-Morgan conceptions of heredi- 
ty have completely pervaded several trends of contem- 
porary bourgeois psychology. The literature that is pub- 
lished in the United States provides ample proof of this 
assertion. Thus, Thorndike, in his theory of develop- 
ment, attributes a decisive influence to heredity. In his 
opinion, human nature or the human type is "a certain 
definite collection or battery of genes which work to- 
gether in a thousand different ways and means." This 
"supply of genes does not change from generation to 
generation and remains the same, independently of con- 
ditions of life." It allegedly determines not only physical 
traits, the shape of the face, the color of the eyes or 
skin, but also the mental traits of man. Thorndike at- 
tempts to present a detailed picture of how these "genes 
of consciousness" determine in children their "ability 
to move from the spot, to run, to jump, to embrace, 
to fight, to pursue, to cry, to laugh, to study with hands 
and eyes, to perform a constructive or destructive ac- 


tion," and also reason, the ability to speak and to learn, 
different professional capacities and psychological quali- 
ties. Thorndike, like the other American representatives 
of the "two-factor" theory which is so widely held in 
that country, does not deny the importance of the en- 
vironment in the development of the child. But he 
insists that the decisive part in this process, and in the 
differences observed in it, is played by "the battery of 
genes" of each individual which determine his inborn 
abilities and his "membership in the white and not in 
the colored race."^ 

Other American scientists who investigate human abili- 
ties with the aid of the famous aptitude tests, develop 
similar racist views. They try to camouflage their primi- 
tive and unscientific methods with the aid of compli- 
cated apparatus and scientific formulas. Their intention 
is to prove that the development of abilities in children 
is determined not by the social conditions of life but 
by the inherited biological equipment, the gene; that 
the abilities do not develop with age but "remain con- 
stant with regard to age"; and that the children of 
colored peoples are far behind the children of white 
peoples as far as their abilities are concerned. This dif- 
ference can allegedly not be wiped out by their adhesion 
to the white man's civilization. 

It must be noted in this connection that a number 
of the other American writers have reached similar reac- 
tionary conclusions from, so to say, opposite starting 
points. They ascribe the decisive part to the environ- 
ment, but hold it to be immutable. They view it as 
a purely external environment and limit it to the in- 
fluence of food, climate and the geographical factor. 
Their argument may be different, but their purpose is 


the same: it is an attempt to prove the physical and 
psychological inferiority of the workers and the so-called 
lower races and to justify the right of Anglo-American 
imperialism to exploit them in an inhuman fashion. 

Bourgeois psychology has entered, in its main tend- 
encies, into the service of capitalist imperialism. It is 
therefore unable to solve the problem of personality 
and other psychological problems. From this arises its 
complete renunciation of the principle of development. 
Bourgeois psychologists try to explain the concrete his- 
torical peculiarities of man, which were formed by the 
material living conditions of society, as eternal and 
immutable characteristics of "man in general." They 
try to find the driving forces of man's development in 
"the depths of biological drives" and to explain man's 
degeneration under capitalism by references to "human 

This also explains the attempts to provide a psycho- 
logical justification of the different philosophical sys- 
tems and ideas that are still used by the enemies of 
Marxism in spite of their untenable character. This was 
noted by Zhdanov, who said that these were, above all, 
". . . Neo-Kantianism, theology, the old and new edi- 
tions of agnosticism, and the attempts to smuggle God 
and other kinds of nonsense into modern natural science, 
which are used to renew the stock-in-trade of the idealis- 
tic shopkeepers."^ 

The crisis of modem bourgeois psychology is acknowl- 
edged by the representatives of progressive psychology 
in the West. Some of them rightly admit that modern 
psychology in capitalist countries "is in the service of 
the ruling class"; that "the hierarchy of its problems 
is determined by the interests of that class"; that the 


theses of that psychology are "merely the projections 
of bourgeois morality"; that "child psychology, for ex- 
ample, was formed on the assumption that only bour- 
geois children existed in this world"; and that bourgeois 
psychologists, and the psychotechnicians in particular, 
try "to ignore the class struggle" and "to float above 
it" by applying the comparative method while they ac- 
tually serve the needs of capitalism and rationalize the 
exploitation of the workers."^ 

They correctly state the reasons for this crisis of bour- 
geois psychology: "Bourgeois psychology is idealist, while 
it should be materialist"; "psychology can become a sci- 
ence only if it renounces idealism, but the psychologists 
of today are unable to renounce it"— which is under- 
standable, since "they are linked with it by their origin, 
tradition and bourgeois ideology." In the best of cases, 
"they base themselves on the imperfect forms of mate- 
rialism which prove to be sterile," i.e., on physiological 
and mechanistic materialism. More often, they "busy 
themselves altogether too much with restoration of spir- 
itualism and scholasticism." Although they "abandoned 
the monk's cowl and have put on the lay clothing of 
professors," they "remain essentially theologians." Their 
psychology is "a chapter of theology and an instrument 
of the state." Instead of spreading knowledge, "they 
offer to the masses Bergsonian mystifications, the fog 
of German metaphysical psychology, or the kind of psy- 
chological cocktail that is mixed by psychoanalysis."" 

The author cited above notes that a Catholic periodi- 
cal "described his criticism of the foundations of psy- 
chology as the undertaking of a Bolshevik." He is con- 
vinced that psychology will become a genuine science 
only after it attacks all its problems in a new way, puts 


an end to idealism, and accepts "the point of view of 
modern materialism, originated by Marx and Engels 
and called dialectical materialism." Only this materialism 
can "be the correct ideological basis of a positive psy- 
chology." " 

The education of children at school is a common 
activity of the children and of the teacher which takes 
place in the school collective. It therefore requires from 
the children a certain attitude not only towards edu- 
cation but also towards the collective, an observance of 
the rules of behavior at school and in society. The 
school collective and also the collectives of the Pioneer 
and Young Communist (Komsomol) organizations rep- 
resent necessary assumptions for the formation of the 
growing personality; for the individual "receives only 
in the collective the means which make it possible for 
him to develop his gifts all-sidedly. Personal freedom is 
therefore possible only in the collective." ^^ 

This is an important principle of Soviet education; 
it has been excellently realized especially in the edu- 
cational theory and practice of A. S. Makarenko. Maka- 
renko shows that the creation of a sound collective, the 
purposes and strivings of which are inseparably linked 
with the life of our society constitutes a necessary 
precondition and powerful force for the full develop- 
ment of the personality of every child; for the removal 
of negative character traits; for the formation of his 
attitudes, his will, and his character; and for the de- 
velopment of his abilities. It was by his able realiza- 


tion of the principle of education in the collective, by 
the collective and for the collective that Makarenko 
turned so many young people damaged by life whom 
the professional educationists proclaimed hopeless and 
"biologically doomed," into full and active workers for 
Socialist construction. One important feature of that 
education is that it is realized not only by the con- 
scious activity of grownups, but that it also relies on 
the unfolding and ever more conscious activity of the 
child himself. For the child is never just a passive ob- 
ject of the influence of environment and education. As 
Makarenko puts it, "We must free ourselves from the 
great 'vice of pedagogy,' i.e., from the belief that the 
children are the objects of education. No, they are the 
living life, and a very beautiful life at that. . . ." 

The things which surround the child influence him 
by entering somehow into his life and becoming the 
objects and conditions of his activity. When the child 
acts, he changes the influence of his surroundings. The 
activity, controlled by education, not only satisfies his 
needs, desires and strivings, but also establishes new 
motives and aims for new activities and skills through 
which these objectives are reached. The change in the 
internal conditions of development in the child brings 
about changes in his demands on his surroundings and 
in the influence of his surroundings upon him. That 
which up to now has not existed for the child and has 
had no influence on him, now begins to affect him. 
Not only the family, the kindergarten or the school, 
but also the events of the social and political life of our 
country gradually become, through changes in the child, 
preconditions of his further psychological development. 
The growing consciousness and self-consciousness of the 


child is here the important factor, without which the 
ever more complex reciprocal relations of the child and 
his surroundings cannot be understood. The child's 
consciousness is, indeed, an ideal form in which his life 
expresses itself, but it also becomes a real factor which 
affects his life. Lenin wrote: "The concept of ti\e trans- 
formation of the ideal into the real is a deep one and 
very important for history. But it is also clear from 
man's personal life that there is much truth in it."" 

The individual characteristics of the child also ex- 
press themselves in his reciprocal relations with his sur- 
roundings. He is attracted by some things and the ac- 
tivities connected with them; he is enthusiastic about 
them and imitates them knowingly or unknowingly. He 
is indifferent to other things, avoids them or even acts 
against them. Depending on such attitudes, the roles 
of the various environmental conditions on the child's 
mental development also differ. On the other hand, all 
attempts to establish a direct dependence between cer- 
tain personality traits of the child and some definite 
"environmental factors" are false. The real reciprocal 
relations that develop in the environment and become 
important in real life must be borne in mind; but 
neither can we ignore the great role of education which 
leads and directs these reciprocal relations. 

It is clear from the above why we must definitely 
overcome not only the idealistic but also the mechanis- 
tic views on the psychological development of the child. 
These views, widely popular in contemporary psychology, 
especially among the Americans (Watson, etc.) , destroy 
the possibilities that actually exist for the development 
and education of children by asserting that this develop- 
ment is some kind of internal process which only re- 


ceives its impulse from some external influences of the 
environment. Such psychologists rob these processes of 
their rich content and confuse the educators in their 
practical work. The remnants of such views have not 
yet been liquidated in our scientific literature and prac- 
tice. They make themselves felt in the statements of 
some physiologists who have not yet given up hope of 
referring all psychological development to physiological 
factors. They can also be found, in part, in the work 
of some pedagogues who do not feel inclined to stimu- 
late a conscious activity among the children or who try 
to shift responsibility for the negative character traits 
of some of their pupils and their failures at school by 
blaming their unfavorable living conditions. 

The recognition of the social conditioning of the 
psychological development of the child by no means re- 
leases us from the task assigned to us by Lenin, i.e., to 
understand this process of development as a "sponta- 
neous movement with an inner necessity." 

Since we reject the idealistic concept of spontaneity, 
which underlies the thought of so many bourgeois 
psychologists, we must explain it in a dialectical mate- 
rialist fashion. 

The spontaneity of the child's psychological develop- 
ment is not in contradiction with the conditioning of 
this development by society; rather, it derives from it. 
The new needs, strivings and interests of the child and 
other stimuli of his activity do not come from some 
intrinsic "nature" of the child, distinct from the world 
around him. They grow out of his life, which is in- 
separably linked with the life of his society and is 
directed by education. This is proved both by our en- 
tire pedagogical practice and by the results of investiga- 


tions of Soviet psychologists like A. N. Leontiev, A. A. 
Smirnov, etc. These investigations reveal how the aims 
and motives of the child's activities are formed; and 
show the qualitative peculiarity of the interests and ideas 
of our children and adolescents, which make them dif- 
ferent from the children and adolescents of Tsarist Russia 
and contemporary capitalist countries. 

Education directs the psychological development of the 
child. It arises in the purposes set by our society and 
the policy of our state. The purpose of education in- 
cludes a program of characteristics that the new gene- 
ration should possess. These characteristics "must be ex- 
pressed in the real traits of men who are formed by 
our pedagogical hands," as Makarenko put it. But even 
the purposes of education that the adults set for them- 
selves also influence the psychological development of 
children, for they become to some extent the purposes 
and motives of the children's activities and determine 
the vitally important tasks which the children will be 
called upon to perform. Any educative task set before 
the child becomes an inner spur for his activity if the 
child takes it over to some extent and makes it his own 
task; as a result, the consciousness that it must be 
achieved creates in him the will to achieve it and to 
achieve it well. The higher the level of consciousness 
and self-knowledge in the child, the greater is the in- 
fluence of the actual situation on the efficacy of his ac- 
tivities and the further is his development. 

At later stages, the growing personality of the child, 
inspired by the opinions, beliefs, perspectives and ideals 
acquired through education, begins to direct the process 
of his own development, to correct personal defects, and 
to foster the growth of positive moral qualities. 


It is here that a very significant characteristic of the 
psychological development of the human personality, 
which is particularly important for this process, makes 
itself felt. It is spontaneity. The art of educational guid- 
ance consists in arousing this spontaneity, in providing 
it with its required content, and in leading it in the 
right direction. It is the educators who know how to 
turn their children and pupils into their own conscious 
and active coeducators who achieve pedagogic work of 
high quality. 

The driving forces of psychological development are 
to be sought neither in heredity or environment, nor 
in any combination of these "two factors," as is asserted 
by bourgeois psychological theories. They are rather 
contained in the life of the child himself. The develop- 
ment of the psyche as a special way of expressing life 
is characterized by the contradictions that belong to life 
and are specific to it. 

These contradictions are not confined to those that 
develop in the course of physiological development. They 
are formed in the social conditions of the child's exist- 
ence and find their solution in them, by making way 
for new contradictions. 

A general characteristic of these contradictions is that 
they are contained in the tension arising between the 
level of psychological development already reached and 
the new problems set by life. The growing personality, 
under the influence of society and education, sets about 
solving these problems. The contradictions have a spe- 
cific character at each stage of development. Thus, edu- 
cation at school, by placing the pupil before ever new 
and more difficult problems, inevitably creates contra- 
dictions between these problems and the existing level 


o£ development, motivation, ability and other psychologi- 
cal characteristics. The mastery of the fundamentals of 
science requires not only the utilization of existing pos- 
sibilities but also the acquisition of entirely new knowl- 
edge, feelings and qualities of will. 

The psychological development is thus explained as 
the overcoming of contradictions; the raising of psycho- 
logical processes and characteristics to the level required 
to solve new vital tasks; the weeding out of old and the 
creation of new traits of consciousness and self-knowledge 
of personality; and, finally, as a constantly growing en- 
richment of psychological life. As in every other gen- 
uine development, some old traits disappear, while 
others, new ones, are formed, consolidated and developed. 
Thus, with advancing age, the direct and naive interests 
of the preschool child fade away and make place for the 
new, deeper, more serious and more constant interests of 
the school child. The purely childish ways of thinking dis- 
appear; they are replaced by newer and more developed 
ones, which correspond to the higher stage of knowl- 
edge of the surrounding world. Naturally, not every- 
thing fades away, much remains as solid attainment of 
personality. But even what remains is much transformed. 
Both in the history of the individual and of mankind, 
what grows cannot be defeated because it bears within 
itself the germs of the future. No education, even if 
it should set itself this absurd purpose, can, e.g., return 
the pupil to his childish interest in play and to his 
childish view of the world, of other men and of himself. 
He has already lived through them, and his entire being 
is directed towards the future. 

The psychological development of the child consists 
of a sequence of regular and necessary stages. Each pre- 


ceding stage prepares the following one and inevitably 
makes room for it. The actual possibilities of transi- 
tion to a new stage are always created in the concrete 
life and activities of the child. Thus, the play and other 
activities of the preschool child, directed by education, 
create the possibilities for education at school and pre- 
pare for the systematic acquisition of knowledge there. 
These new opportunities do not grow by themselves; 
they come into being under certain definite social con- 
ditions, with the aid of the means provided by society, 
and under the decisive influence of education. Instruc- 
tion and education of the child create new possibilities 
by realizing the existing ones, but in a different way 
and depending on the content and the methods by which 
the realization takes place. 

This also applies to those potentialities of the child 
that we call his natural gifts. They are not only utilized 
in instruction and education; they undergo changes dur- 
ing the process. It is wrong to assume that the gifts 
of the child do not change, while his various abilities 
develop. But this wrong metaphysical conception of gifts 
is commonly accepted in bourgeois psychology. 

Various bourgeois psychologists, like W. Stern, Binet, 
Claparede, Spearman, etc., use it as the starting point 
for working out systems of tests for the determination 
of "intelligence quotients," "natural doses of intelli- 
gence," "reserves of mental energy," etc. We find in our 
own scientific literature and practice remnants of this 
conception of natural gifts. They must be definitely over- 
come, so that the educators can successfully direct the 
development of the child's abilities. 

Natural gifts are not ready abilities but only natural 
possibilities for the formation and development of such 


abilities. The material foundation of these possibilities 
is provided by the child's organism, and particularly 
by his brain, his senses and his organs of motion. These 
possibilities are, like the organism itself, a product of 
a development whose inner structure is different at dif- 
ferent stages. 

The child is bom with a relatively highly developed 
nervous system, with senses and organs of motion, as 
well as with organic needs that stimulate him into ac- 
tivity. The degree of their development also determines 
the degree of development of his inborn gifts. Marx and 
Engels say that "the child is supplied by nature in part 
with natural forces, with life forces; it is an active, 
natural creature; these forces exist in him in the form 
of gifts, abilities and also of instincts. . . ."^* 

The growing interaction of the child and the world 
around him produces, by bringing out ever new psy- 
chological characteristics, a change in their anatomical 
and physiological foundations. Through this interaction, 
the child's organism develops; his nervous system ma- 
tures, and especially his cerebral cortex; his functional 
characteristics grow; and a great mass of conditioned 
reflexes and other neurodynamic links are formed. The 
results of investigations by I. P. Pavlov and his dis- 
ciples show that these connections and relations do not 
grow by themselves. They are formed in the child's 
activity, by the solution of all kinds of tasks set by 

Therefore, the successes of the child in his psycho- 
logical development presuppose the development of his 
natural abilities. The abilities, as the starting points for 
the psychological development, themselves grow while 
that development is taking place. For what does not 


itself develop, cannot be the inner condition of a de- 
velopment. The abilities of the child who starts going 
to school are no longer the same as those he had at the 
age of three, or when he was born, because the child 
himself is no longer the same. The abilities are always 
contained in their realization and in their concrete re- 
sults. To every stage of development of the child's 
psyche there corresponds a stage in the development of 
his abilities. We cannot view this, of course, as an in- 
teraction of two factors which are parallel and of equal 
importance, for the psychological and physiological de- 
velopments are not identical and their relationship is 
complex. On the other hand, psychological development 
must not be separated from the development of the ma- 
terial substratum and its potentialities. 

To understand natural gifts correctly, it is necessary 
to abandon once and for all the conception that views 
them as powers which are localized in individual parts 
of the brain and Avhich directly condition the develop- 
ment of individual abilities. Such a conception is not 
in keeping with the results of scientific studies of the 
work of the brain as the material substratum of psy- 
chological activity. Every concrete form of such activity, 
like reading, the solution of arithmetical problems, learn- 
ing by heart, playing a piece of music, technical con- 
struction, is the expression of an indivisible human per- 
sonality. The brain participates in these processes as a 
whole, even if its individual parts and structures are 
responsible for the different aspects of these complicated 
processes. Therefore, the natural gifts of the child de- 
velop as a whole in each of his activities, but they de- 
velop in different degrees and in different directions, 
according to the character of each activity and according 


to the demands it makes on the child's personality. 

We can estimate the natural abilities only to the 
extent in which a growing personality, all other con- 
ditions being equal, manifests itself in this or that kind 
of human activity and results in relevant skills or other 
qualities. A personality can manifest itself in many kinds 
of activities with equal success; it is thus that the gene- 
ral character of the natural gifts expresses itself. But, 
at the same time, the different branches of human ac- 
tivity—musical, technical, scientific, etc.— make specific 
demands on the human personality. The existence of 
special natural gifts for the development of individual 
abilities manifests itself in the way in which these de- 
mands are met. 

It is understandable that the manifold and many-sided 
activity of the child in the family, in the kindergarten, 
at school and outside school is the decisive precondition 
for the development of natural gifts and talents. What- 
ever natural gifts for the development of general and 
special abilities the child might possess, they cannot be 
transformed by themselves, and apart from the corre- 
sponding activity, into scientific, musical, technical and 
other abilities. But this does not mean, of course, that 
natural gifts which are not utilized because of given 
conditions of life and activity are therefore dulled and 
finally die away, as is assumed by some people. 

Such an opinion is derived from a false conception 
of natural gifts. It views them as some kind of isolated 
"organ" in the brain which dies away if it lies fallow. 
Actually, everything in the brain is activity; not only 
nothing dies, but everything develops further. The de- 
velopment of general abilities is also expressed in th€ 
special gifts, even if these are not utilized. A person can 


be robbed, no doubt, by the conditions of his life, of 
the opportunity to learn, to acquire a mastery of the 
arts, and to enjoy them. But this does not mean that 
his natural gifts perish. They can make their appear- 
ance at a ripe old age. After the October Revolution, 
many workers who learned to read and write only at 
an advanced age, successfully acquired a knowledge of 
the achievements of science, technology and the arts. 
There is, for example, the case of E. I. Guseva. Born 
in a village of Simbirsk province, she learned to read 
and write when she was over forty. She became a stu- 
dent at a Workers' Faculty, graduated together with 
her son from the Timiryazev Agricultural Academy, ob- 
tained in 1936 the degree of the "Candidate of Sciences." 
Now, at the age of seventy- three, she has successfully 
defended a dissertation on the cultivation of some agri- 
cultural plants (Agrumen) and does creative work in 
agricultural technology. The name of E. I. Guseva, who 
trained hundreds of young specialists, is known in all 
collective and government farms of the Black Sea Coast. 
Her life story is typical of our country. 

The gifts and abilities develop through purposeful 
activity, both in the child and in the adult. As Gorki 
put it: "The higher a man's purpose, the more rapidly 
and more productively his abilities and talents develop." 
Makarenko proved by his practical work the great im- 
portance of ideological purposefulness in the education 
and development of the growing personality. He stressed 
especially the value of men's more distant purposes, es- 
pecially those which are linked with the aims and tasks 
of our society (cf. his "system of perspectives"). "An- 
ticipated joy," he wrote, "is a true stimulus of human 
life." Therefore, "to educate a man" means to supply 


him with perspectives to which an anticipation of joy 
is attached, beginning with the simplest kind of joy and 
ending with those which express the consciousness of the 
citizen of our country and his sentiment of duty to our 

Without new purposes and perspectives linked with 
those of the collective, there would be no development 
and no progress. 

Two abilities of educators play a very important part 
in the guidance of psychological development. One is 
the ability to transform these future perspectives into 
concrete tasks which must be achieved at a given stage 
of life and activity. The other is the capacity of arousing 
a conscious and interested attitude towards these tasks 
and of mobilizing all efforts for the overcoming of ob- 
stacles and difficulties. Both in the historical develop- 
ment of mankind and in the growth of the individual, 
work creates ever new possibilities for solving new prob- 
lems. These result from overcoming the difficulties which 
arise in the child's learning and other activities. The 
acquisition of knowledge does not proceed without ob- 
stacles to be overcome as a precondition of the child's 
growth and mental development. It is only by over- 
coming difficulties that the child acquires a solid knowl- 
edge, forms his abilities and talents, develops his power 
of acquiring knowledge and other qualities, and forges 
his character. The intellectual maturity to which our 
schools certify their graduates is a result of ten years 
of systematic and strenuous work directed by educa- 

One necessary precondition for the development of 
the potentialities of every child consists in the high de- 
mands made by the educator who must, however, adapt 


them to the child's strength and combine them with 
care, attention and respect for the child's personality. 
"Without demands there can be no education," Maka- 
renko correctly noted. He remarked in this connection 
that in our country completely new demands were made 
both on adults and on growing personalities. But these 
demands, to be fulfilled, create new possibilities and new 
qualities of reason, emotion and will. The demands we 
make on growing personalities are the expression of our 
strong belief in their strength and their potentialities— 
they are, indeed, a necessary precondition for the reali- 
zation of their abilities. They are in no contradiction 
with man; on the contrary, man recognizes their justice 
and turns them into demands upon himself, upon his 
own work and upon his qualities that are in the state 
of formation. 

Ushinsky observed that the art of guiding the psy- 
chological development of personality is the most com- 
plicated and difficult of all arts. It consists in the ability 
to direct the life and activity of men. This work raises 
the educator to the level of an "engineer of the childish 
soul"; he creates new qualities in the child. And yet, 
he has one task that is even more difficult: to re-educate 
some children and to correct the mistakes of earlier edu- 
cational work. 

The success of the educator's task depends in the 
first place on his Communist purposefulness, his love 
for his work and his ability to use for his purpose all 
the rich means that our socialist society places at his 
disposal. But to do this he needs to know the children, 
their life, their nature, and their development. Engels' 
view that man rules nature only when he understands 
her laws applies both to the laws of outer nature and 


to those laws to which the bodily and mental nature 
of man is subjected. 

A true "engineer" of the child's consciousness is the 
educator who knows the laws of the human nature 
upon which he exercises an influence and which he helps 
to form; who knows the age and individual peculiarities 
of the child; who takes into account the concrete pos- 
sibilities of each stage of development and creates new 
ones; who understands how to notice, behind seemingly 
insignificant facts, the germs of new qualities in the 
consciousness and self-consciousness of the child; who 
can help the child to develop these qualities and to use 
them for his gro^vth. The realization that the psycho- 
logical development of our children and the formation 
of their psychological and moral qualities takes place 
under the decisive influence of Communist education, 
confirms the powerful importance of the scientific study 
of the problems of child and educational psychology. 


1. V. I. Lenin, from the Posthumous Philosophical Writings 
(in German) , Berlin, Dietz, 1949, p. 190. 

2. W. Preyer, The Soul of the Child (in German), 8th 
edition, Leipzig, 1912, pp. VI-VIII. 

3. K. A. Timiryazev, Works (in Russian), 1939, vol. VI, 
p. 265. 

4. Ibid., pp. 183, 265. 

5. K. Biihler, The Mental Development of the Child (in 
German), 6th edition, Jena, 1930, p. 39. 

6. E. Huguenin, The Children's Courts (in French), Paris, 
1935, p. 89. 

7. E, L. Thorndike, Man and His Works, 1943, pp. 9, 12, 
13, 15-16, 21, 40. 


8. A, A. Zhdanov, "Contribution to the Philosophical Dis- 
cussion" (in Russian) , in Voprosy Filozofii, 1947, Nr. 1, p. 263. 

9. Georges Politzer, The Crisis of Contemporary Psychology 
(in French), Paris, 1947, pp. 117, 119. 

10. Ibid., pp. 89, 91, 96, 109. 

11. Ibid., pp. 90, 117. 

12. K. Marx and F. Engels, Works, IV (in Russian) , p. 65. 

13. V. I. Lenin, Posthumous Philosophical Writings (in 
German) , Berlin, Dietz, p. 31. 

14. K. Marx and F. Engels, Works (in Russian) , vol. Ill, 
p. 642. 



A. L. Shnirman 

The foundations for the psychological study of per- 
sonality and the possibilities of such an investigation 
have been established by one of the most important 
theses of Soviet psychology: man's consciousness and the 
psychological qualities of his personality are formed and 
express themselves in activity. This assertion is of fun- 
damental importance. The thesis that psychological char- 
acteristics are formed through activity opens wide per- 
spectives for the development of necessary human quali- 
ties through the correct guidance of human experience. 
The fact that man's consciousness and psychological 
characteristics are prominent in any purposeful activity, 
offers us a possibility for an all-round understanding of 
human personality. 

Idealist psychology decries the pwDssibility of under- 
standing the psyche of another person through his be- 
havior. On this basis, self-observation or introspection 
developed as the only method of psychological investi- 
gation. "Objective" psychology directed upon behavior, 
i.e., behaviorism, which is a variety of idealistic psy- 


chology, also denied that it was possible to understand 
scientifically a man's psyche from its manifestations. This 
conception led to the conclusion that psychology must 
renounce altogether an understanding of the psyche and 
must study only the outward behavior of man in con- 
nection with the environment that influences him, as 
a totality of reactions and reflexes. Thus, all the tend- 
encies of bourgeois psychology agree that man's psyche 
cannot be understood. 

Soviet psychology, based on logical Marxist theory, 
consistently asserts the thesis of the understandability 
of the psyche. The possibility of a scientific understand- 
ing of the psyche is derived from the recognition that 
the psyche, formed in human activity, manifests itself in 
human activity. 

The above account yields our first principle for the 
study of human personality generally and of pupil per- 
sonality in particular, i.e., the study of personality in its 
activity. To give this study a real content, we must analyse 
personality from many sides through its different forms 
of activity. 

The most essential and important activity of the pupil 
is learning. We must therefore study the personality of 
the pupil in the learning process. The teacher notices 
many psychological traits of his pupils in the course of 
his instruction in class. It is the interests of the pupil 
that manifest themselves here: his likings for this or 
that subject, the extension and depth of his interests, 
his constancy and his activity, the peculiarity of his be- 
havior. The pupil's behavior in class expresses important 
motivations of his actions, and, above all, his personal 
convictions. These manifest themselves in his attitude 
towards schoolwork (conscientiousness and a sense of 


responsibility in work) ; his position as regards ideological 
questions, especially in literature, history, biology and 
physics; his high opinion of this or that historical char- 
acter, personality of public life, an outstanding artist, 
scientist or writer— any man for whom he has a special 
sympathy and who becomes his ideal. We also obtain 
information about the pupil's motivations in learning, 
when Ave analyse his reactions to the teacher's judgments 
on his work and behavior. What is interesting here is the 
type of the pupil's reaction. The following reactions are 
typical: a correct attitude in estimating his grades, viewed 
both as a just estimate of his work and as a stimulus to 
further efforts; an indifferent attitude; over-estimation 
of the value of grades and constant effort to get ones; 
differential attitude to good or bad grades and their varied 
effect on the pupil's activity; etc. Very important also is 
the pupil's attitude to the judgment of different teachers, 
according to the nature of the subject, the personal 
qualities of the teacher and the pupil's relationship with 

The abilities of the pupil in this or that area of studies 
manifest themselves in class with a particular clarity. A 
sufficient degree of attention permits the teacher to rec- 
ognize not only the actual state of the pupil's abilities, 
but also the direction of their development. The teacher 
observes in class many essential facts which help him to 
understand the pupil's traits and habits, especially the 
qualities of his schoolwork, e.g., correctness, eagerness 
and grade. 

The intellectual characteristics of the pupil manifest 
themselves with special distinctness: gift of observation; 
rapid grasp; careful understanding; clear, distinct and 
graphic language; logical thought; expression that goes 


straight to the point; clear and vivid speech, and other 
traits that impressively characterize the pupil's mentality. 
The same is true of the characteristics of the pupil's will: 
activity; perseverance; persistence; the capacity to over- 
come difficulties; initiative; independence; self-control; 

It is more difficult to recognize the pupil's emotional 
characteristics from his behavior in class. But this side, 
too, of the pupil's personality will manifest itself to a 
greater or lesser degree. The teacher who observes his 
pupil closely can always recognize the different expres- 
sions of "intellectual" feelings: thirst for knowledge; joy 
in the successful accomplishment of a difficult task, etc. 
But he can also note the existence of aesthetic feeling, e.g., 
in the literature class; and of moral feelings which mani- 
fest themselves with special clarity in the treatment of 
ideological questions. 

The teacher has many opportunities in class to observe 
manners of the pupil's behavior that are characteristic 
of his attitude towards other people. They show them- 
selves in the pupil's relationship with the teacher, in his 
reactions to the teacher's instructions and his stimulating 
or reproving remarks. Very important for the character- 
ization of a pupil are his relations with his fellow pupils, 
e.g., gruflp or cooperative behavior; rudeness or politeness; 
sensitivity; envy; arrogance or condescension, etc. Typical 
of the pupil's behavior is his attitude towards the achieve- 
ments of the other pupils in class, to their progress or 

Another type of characteristics of the pupil that mani- 
fest themselves in class includes those which indicate 
his feelings about himself: modesty or presumption; self- 
confidence or timidity; ambition, etc. 


Thus even a simple observation in class reveals to the 
teacher a series of important character traits of the pupil. 
But a true teacher does not limit himself to a passive ob- 
servation of the pupil. He deliberately creates conditions 
in which certain character traits of the pupil, which are 
of interest to him, manifest themselves. He gives serious 
thought to the demands to be made on that particular 
pupil, to the manner of their presentation, to whether 
praise or censure is appropriate, to the effect that a special 
interest in the pupil's personal development or indiffer- 
ence towards him might have. These observations of the 
teacher in class are supplemented by the results of his 
control of the pupil's achievements, his classwork and 
homework, his notes, statements and summaries, his 
themes and his essays, especially those on "free" themes, 
e.g. on friendship and comradeship; on ideals and plans 
for the future, etc. These observations and reflections 
offer the teacher a rich material for characterizing the 
growing personalities of his pupils. 

But the teacher must not limit himself to what he notes 
at school. Many character traits of the pupil manifest 
themselves more clearly and significantly in other forms 
of his activity. Above all, the extra-curricular activities of 
the pupil offer the teacher great opportunities for studying 
his personality. These activities include work in various 
groups; his contributions to wall newspapers and pupils' 
magazines; his participation in readers' circles, sport 
clubs, etc. The mere fact that these activities are usually 
carried out without compulsion and on the pupil's own 
initiative makes them particularly valuable in revealing 
his motives— and interests. Breadth, depth and constancy 
of these interests show themselves with special clarity in 
extra-curricular activities. The literary interests of the 


pupil merit a special attention. Unfortunately, they very 
often remain outside the teacher's field of awareness, 
though they are of great importance for a study of the 
personality of young people. 

Also to be noted is the pupil's interest in questions of 
Soviet and international politics. The pupil's tendencies 
in this respect show themselves in classes on political in- 
formation, in political lectures and in judgments of 
newspaper items. 

Very important is the study of the pupil's conduct in 
social situations. Many important traits of character, es- 
pecially the pupil's attitude towards his school and his 
class, manifest themselves here. Thus it becomes clear 
how the successes and failures of his class affect him. His 
sense of responsibility towards the collective and his 
consciousness of the responsibility of his class collective 
towards the school show themselves particularly in the 
performance of common tasks and especially of the tasks 
assigned to him by the class and to the class by the school. 
Many personality traits manifest themselves in social situ- 
ations and in relations with the collective. They include: 
communicativeness; sympathy; attention; openness; love 
of truth; sincerity; confidence; friendliness, etc. It is in 
the collective that an understanding of collective life is 
formed and developed, and also the ability to fit in and 
to subordinate oneself, which are important characteristics 
of the will. It is in the collective that the social feelings 
of men form and manifest themselves. 

The study of the pupil at his social work and in his 
collective are therefore an important part of the teacher's 
analysis of pupil personality. 

Learning in class, extra-curricular activities, and social 
work are the most important spheres of the pupil's ac- 


tivities. They offer the teacher the best clues to the pupil's 
psychological traits. But it would be wrong for the teacher 
to ignore another very important part of the pupil's life, 
i.e., his activity at home and with his family. We don't 
mean the pupil's homework, but rather his mutual rela- 
tions with the family, the chores assigned to him and his 
collaboration in the functioning of the home. It may 
happen that the pupil learns well in class and takes an 
active part in the school collective, but he won't do a 
stroke of work at home and insists that the family do 
everything for him. The school and the teacher must not 
ignore such facts. 


Date Due 





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